The Tennessee-Georgia Rivalry, Part III: Mark Richt And Casey Clausen

In the 2009 edition of Rocky Top Tennessee (2010 edition here), Georgia Bulldog fan Doug Gillett contributed a fantastic four-pager on the Tennessee-Georgia rivalry. Although that was a year ago, the article is mostly historical, so we're re-publishing it here this week in four parts. Today, we bring you Part III.

-- Joel

And Now, Mark Richt Drinks Casey Clausen's Milkshake

But the new coach was Mark Richt and the freshman QB was David Greene, and that made all the difference. Going on the road to face a sixth-ranked Tennessee team that had been touted for the Rose Bowl, the young Bulldogs fought back from an early 14-3 deficit, and immediately after Tennessee retook the lead on a 62-yard screen pass to Travis Stephens, Greene led his team on what would become one of the most storied drives in Georgia football history. Starting at the Tennessee 41, Greene lasered two first-down passes to tight end Randy McMichael, and then hit fullback Verron Haynes in the back of the end zone for the game-winning TD and another iconic call from Larry Munson ("We just stepped on their face with a hobnail boot and broke their nose!"). It was a statement-making upset for a program that had been searching for respect for the better part of a decade.

The following year, with Tennessee QB Casey Clausen on the sideline due to injury, Georgia dispatched the Vols once again on its way to a 13-1 record and its first SEC title in 20 years. Clausen, for his part, was unimpressed: He said after the game that the Vols "would have won by at least a couple of touchdowns" had he been healthy enough to play, adding for good measure that he could've "played on one arm" in the process. Those words, though, came back to haunt him in Knoxville a year later. Just seconds before halftime, Clausen had led his team down to the Georgia one yard line when he bumped into his fullback and put the ball on the ground; Georgia safety Sean Jones scooped it up without even breaking stride and raced 92 yards the other way for a touchdown. Thus, a potential 14-13 halftime lead for the Vols became a 20-7 hole, and Clausen pretty much imploded from there, going 2-8 for 16 yards and two picks in the second half. By the time he was yanked for backup C.J. Leak in the fourth quarter, Georgia led 41-7 and the only people left in the stadium were Georgia fans chanting "Ca-sey, Ca-sey" from the north end zone.

I was one of them, and I'm not gonna lie, kids, that was one of the most glorious nights of my life. And it only got better: Later that night, at the apartment where we were staying, I heard a number of Vol fans gravely expressing their misery over the current state of affairs. Whatever powers of intimidation the Vols had held over the 1990s Dawgs had vanished, and now it was the Big Orange's turn to wonder whether they'd ever notch a victory in the rivalry again. Sucks to have those kind of thoughts, doesn't it?

TOMORROW: Oh, So This Is What A Rivalry Looks Like

-Doug Gillett writes about college football at heyjennyslater.blogspot.com, EDSBS.com, and SB Nation Atlanta. A proud alumnus of the University of Georgia, where he served as editor-in-chief of the school's independent student newspaper, he is also a paradox: He graduated two years before Phillip Fulmer's streak over the Dawgs finally came to a close, hence his white-hot loathing for all things Vol-but apparently not quite hot enough to keep him from dating a Tennessee grad. His struggles with his conscience are ongoing.

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