Dawgs Trip Tar Heels In First Sugar Bowl Appearance

Georgia has had many storied seasons over the years, but the 1946 team will always have a special place in the heart of Bulldog fans by giving the Athenians their first autumn of perfection.

After ending 1945 on a five-game winning streak, Wally Butts’ crew stormed through the first postwar season with a vengeance, destroying traditional rivals Alabama, Florida and Georgia Tech, and winding up the regular schedule with an average margin of 37-10. The Dawgs were led by All-American and future All-Pro halfback Charley Trippi and quarterback Johnny Rauch, who later coached the Oakland Raiders to their first Super Bowl appearance.

Trippi was a true phenomenon, having been the MVP of the 1943 Rose Bowl as the Dawgs beat UCLA, and then gone off to fight in World War II, returning to win the Maxwell Trophy in his senior year at Georgia in 1946. He then led the Chicago Cardinals to their only NFL championship in his rookie year, and was later inducted into both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame. He remains the only NFL Hall of Famer to rush, pass, and receive over 1000 yards each during the course of his career.

After wiping their cleats on the rest of the SEC, the Bulldogs received an invitation to play the North Carolina Tar Heels in the 1947 Sugar Bowl. It was scarcely a breather, as the Heels, led by future All-American, halfback Charley “Choo-Choo” Justice, suffered but one narrow loss to powerful Tennessee before arriving in New Orleans.

But as is often the case, the much-advertised duel of All-Americans never really materialized, though Trippi did pass for the first Bulldog touchdown. But what the Dawgs lacked in offensive firepower, they made up in defense, holding Justice in check all day, enabling the Dawgs to mount a second half rally to pull out a 20-10 win.

While both coach Butts and his successor Vince Dooley had many great seasons after this, it was to be another 34 years before perfection wrapped up in a bowl win was to come the Bulldogs’ way.

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