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Sports Then and Now



30 Years Ago: Herschel Walker Leads Georgia to National Title 7

Posted on January 01, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Freshman Herschel Walker rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns to lead Georgia to victory over Notre Dame in the 1981 Sugar Bowl.

It is hard to believe that it has been more than 30 years since we were introduced to perhaps the best college football player of all-time. During his three seasons at the University of Georgia, Herschel Walker was in a class by himself as the prototype running back in college football.

As a freshman during the 1980 season, Walker burst on the scene with 1,616 yards rushing (5.9 yards per carry) to lead a Georgia team that had been 6-5 the previous season to a perfect 12-0 record and the first national championship for the school since 1942.

In the Sugar Bowl on January 1, 1981, Walker rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns as the Bulldogs held off Notre Dame 17-10 to claim the national title. Other notable members of head coach Vince Dooley’s squad included quarterback Buck Belue, future NFL wide receiver Lindsay Scott and freshman defensive back Terry Hoage (who blocked a key kick early in the contest).

Over the following two seasons, Walker rushed for more than 3,600 yards as Georgia lost just one regular season game and won 18 straight SEC games to claim three straight league titles.

They went undefeated during the 1982 regular season as Walker was named the winner of the Heisman Trophy. The Bulldogs lost a chance at the national title with a 27-23 loss to Penn State in what would be Walker’s final collegiate performance.

Surprisingly, it would be 20 years before Georgia would claim another SEC Championship and they have yet to win another national championship.

Walker left following his junior season for the USFL and rushed for 5,562 yards in three seasons in the league. In 1985, he set the all-time professional football record for rushing yards in a season with 2,411 yards in 18 games. Read the rest of this entry →

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