UGASports - Significance of UGA’s Run-Stopping Success
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Significance of UGA’s Run-Stopping Success

PAT’s WEEKLY STAT (you likely won’t see anywhere else—and there’s probably good reason why): Kirby Smart and some of his players have somewhat downplayed this week the fact Georgia has yet to allow a rushing touchdown through eight games this season. Still, UGASports believed the feat to be noteworthy, and therefore did a substantial amount of research. The Bulldogs’ accomplishment is indeed significant for a few reasons.

For one, Georgia remains the only team yet to yield a rushing touchdown in all of NCAA football—not just the FBS, but all 665 teams which make up Division I (FBS and FCS), Division II, and Division III combined. In the NCAA, the Bulldogs are followed by zero teams having allowed even just one rushing score; then 10 schools having yielded two thus far this season:

0—Georgia (FBS)

2—Ohio State (FBS), Iowa (FBS), Central Conn. St. (FCS), Cal U (II), Minnesota St. (II), Deleware Valley (III), North Central (III), Bridgewater (III), Trinity (III), Carnegie Mellon (III).



UGASports went back—way back—beginning with 1949, to find Georgia’s touchdown detail for every game over the last 70 years. It was then in 1949, primarily because of a number of preceding rule changes, that there was a sudden offensive outbreak in major college football. That season, the average major college team averaged more than 10 plays and nearly 100 yards per game than it had a decade earlier, while the average points scored per team had increased from approximately 11.5 to 19.5. This new standard in major-college scoring continued for 20 years into the late 1960s, when another rule change—stopping the clock on all first downs to move the chains—slightly increased offensive production even more.

Considering Georgia has allowed an average of 1.09 rushing touchdowns per game since 1949 (incidentally, a 0.90 average for passing touchdowns), including a 1.27 average since 2005, it’s been rather uncommon for a Bulldog team to start a season by not allowing a rushing touchdown—much less string together any kind of streak of keeping the opposition’s ground game out of the end zone.

The fact that Georgia has yet to allow a rushing touchdown in eight games this season is rather significant—and for several reasons.
The fact that Georgia has yet to allow a rushing touchdown in eight games this season is rather significant—and for several reasons.

Georgia’s current eight-game streak, beginning a season without yielding a rushing touchdown, is not only a school record, but one which was realized more than a month ago. Prior to this season, the most games since 1949 the Bulldogs had started a campaign without allowing a rushing score was four in 1981, before Ole Miss quarterback John Fourcade rushed for a second-quarter touchdown against Georgia in game five of that season.

Interestingly, just last year marked only the fifth season in the last 70 that the Bulldogs opened their campaign by not allowing a rushing touchdown for at least three games. Missouri ended Georgia’s streak in game four by rushing for four touchdowns in Columbia. The Bulldogs wound up yielding 18 rushing scores for the entire season (13 passing touchdowns) after allowing only eight in 2017.

8-game streak—2019

4-game streak—1981

3-game streak—1998, 2003, 2006, and 2018



Speaking of rushing touchdowns allowed in a season, the 2019 campaign is certainly shaping up to rank among the best in Georgia history as far as keeping opposing rushing attacks out of the end zone for the entirety of a year. I checked from 1949 through 2018—and including all bowl games, even before 2002, when bowl statistics were not included in season/career totals. The following are the Bulldogs’ top seasons, according to fewest rushing touchdowns allowed per game. For a point of reference, passing touchdowns allowed are listed as well.

UGA's Fewest Rushing TDs Allowed Per Game (1949-2018)
Rush TDs allowed per game Season UGA yielded x rushing TDs in y games Passing TDs allowed

0.36

1968

4 in 11

6

0.42

1981

5 in 12

10

0.45

1959

5 in 11

5

0.50

1971

6 in 12

10

0.53

2017

8 in 15

19

0.57

2003

8 in 14

12

0.58

2004

7 in 12

13

Of the top six seasons above, four Georgia captured the SEC championship—whereas another, 2003, the Bulldogs played for the conference title, while the other, 1971, they finished with a 11-1 mark.

Finally, to further realize the significance of Georgia’s no-rushing-touchdowns-allowed streak, UGASports researched farther back, even before major-college football’s offensive outbreak. Turns out, the Bulldogs’ “Dream and Wonder Team” of 1927, which won nine of 10 games and nearly reached the Rose Bowl, did not allow a rushing touchdown in its first eight games as well, before Alabama’s Davis Brasfield rushed for a fourth-quarter score against Georgia in game nine.

Accordingly, Georgia, whether it continues to downplay its run-stopping success or not, will be aiming this Saturday for the all-time school record of nine games to begin a season without yielding a rushing score—and, ironically, against Missouri. Why is that ironic? It's the same squad that ended the Bulldogs’ no-rushing-touchdowns-allowed streak last season.