Georgia takes shot at being best ever

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart watches his players warm up before an NCAA college football game against Tennessee, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart watches his players warm up before an NCAA college football game against Tennessee, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

ATLANTA -- The Georgia Bulldogs are already in unusual territory.

With three more victories, they'll have every right to call themselves the greatest team in college football history.

The top-ranked Bulldogs haven't lost a game in 727 days.

Today, they'll go for their 30th win in a row against Nick Saban and No. 8 Alabama in the SEC championship game.

While Coach Kirby Smart insists that his two-time reigning national champs keep their feet planted very firmly in the present, it's impossible not to reflect just a bit on Georgia's stunning perfection over the last two years.

"I definitely do just take some time to just try and sit back and appreciate it," defensive back Kamari Lassiter said this week. "It's hard to sometimes just take a second and just slow down when games are coming at you so fast, with practices and all the media and everything flying around.

"But sometimes," he added, "just being able to sit down and think for myself personally over the last few years that I've been able to be a part of a really good program and a program that's taught me a lot of things, not just about football but about life."

Georgia is trying to become just the ninth major program in college football history to win as many as 30 consecutive games. It's certainly never been tougher to put together such a run in this era of increased parity, longer seasons, expanded playoffs and supersized conferences, not to mention having to navigate the transfer portal and NIL.

Making the streak even more impressive, Smart's Bulldogs have done it while playing in the SEC -- the best conference in the land.

"It's phenomenal what he's been able to accomplish at Georgia," said Saban, Smart's former boss and now chief rival. "I mean, to win as many games in a row, win a couple championships, have another chance to do it again a third time, I mean, that's phenomenal."

No team in The Associated Press poll era -- which dates back to 1936 -- has managed to claim three consecutive national championships. If the Bulldogs can complete the threepeat, they would have a pretty compelling argument that no program has ever done it better.

But, before we get ahead of ourselves, let's marvel at all that has happened since Georgia's last loss -- to Alabama, of all teams, in the SEC championship game on Dec. 4, 2021.

Here's a few nuggets about The Streak:

The Bulldogs have outscored their 29 opponents by a cumulative 1,158 to 432. That's an average margin of more than 25 points per game.

Georgia has trailed in the fourth quarter only three times, most notably in last season's Peach Bowl semifinal game against Ohio State. The Dawgs rallied from a two-touchdown deficit and survived a last-second field goal attempt to win a 42-41 thriller.

The only other contest decided by less than a touchdown also came last season, when Georgia bounced back for a 26-22 victory at Missouri. No other win has been closer than a touchdown; in fact, just five had margins in the single digits.

The Bulldogs are 9-0 against ranked teams, with only two of those wins decided by fewer than 10 points.

Smart's skills in recruiting, player development and motivation are unquestioned, but his greatest trait as a coach -- and this is certainly something he learned from his extensive time working at Saban's side -- is being able to instill a laser-like focus on what's important that very day, that very hour, that very minute, to his players.

"It's never been about a streak or anything like that," Lassiter said. "It's always just been about being in the moment, just trying to win that moment."

Saban surely saw a bit of himself when Smart worked on his staff for more than a decade, moving up to become Alabama's defensive coordinator before he returned to his alma mater as head coach in 2016.

"I kind of knew that he had great leadership qualities," Saban said. "That's why we made him coordinator. When he was a coordinator, he did a great job of managing that side of the ball. I knew he'd be an outstanding head coach someday."

The last school to win as many as 30 games in a row was Miami, which put together a 34-game run from 2000-02. At the top of the heap is Oklahoma, which claimed 47 consecutive victories from 1953-57.

It's worth noting that the Bulldogs came into the 2021 SEC championship game with a 16-game winning streak, which means they've won 45 of their last 46 games.

The Bulldogs could still take down Oklahoma's record, but they'd have to win out this season, put together another 15-0 campaign in 2024 and win their opener in '25.

That sounds like a bit of a reach, but it's really not necessary to stamp this team as the top dog ever.

Three more wins would be enough.

  photo  Georgia head coach Kirby Smart yells to linebacker Chaz Chambliss (32)during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Georgia Tech, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
 
 
  photo  Georgia running back Kendall Milton (2) is congratulated by offensive lineman Earnest Greene III (71) after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Tennessee, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
 
 
  photo  Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, right, tips his cap as he and his players leave the field after an NCAA college football game against Tennessee, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Knoxville, Tenn. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
 
 
  photo  Georgia quarterback Carson Beck (15) throws from the pocket during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Georgia Tech, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
 
 
  photo  Georgia wide receiver Dillon Bell (86) tries to get past Georgia Tech's Taye Seymore (25) as hde returns a kickoff during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
 
 
  photo  Georgia running back Kendall Milton (2) runs for yardage as he's hit by Tennessee defensive back Kamal Hadden (5) during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
 
 
  photo  Georgia quarterback Carson Beck (15) tries to escape from Georgia Tech linebacker Braelen Oliver (4) during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)