No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs carry historic streaks to Jacksonville for Florida game

Georgia football-Kirk Herbstreit-standard

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

This is the last time Kirby Smart shook any coach's hand in defeat. The Bulldogs lost to Nick Saban's Alabama Crimson Tide 41-24 in the 2021 SEC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Georgia has won 24 consecutive games, an SEC title and two national championships since then. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

ATHENS — “The streak.”

Actually, that should be plural, as in streaks.

When it comes to Georgia’s current run of success, there are a bunch of streaks that will be on the line when the top-ranked Bulldogs (7-0, 4-0 SEC) take on Florida (5-2, 3-1) in Jacksonville on Saturday (3:30 p.m., CBS). UGA Sports Communications has listed them on the front page of its weekly game notes all season. They get more-and-more impressive with every passing victory.

  • Georgia is on a school-record 24-game win streak that began with the win over Michigan in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 31, 2021.
  • Georgia is in the midst of a school-record 34-game regular-season win streak; that one started with a home win over Mississippi State on Nov. 21, 2020.
  • Georgia recently matched its record for SEC regular-season wins in a row at 23.
  • Georgia has spent 19 consecutive weeks as the No. 1 team in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. Starting Oct. 9, 2022, that is the longest in SEC history and the third longest overall behind Southern Cal’s streak of 33 (2003-05) and Miami’s 21 (2001-02).

Perhaps the most impressive of all is not really a streak, per se. Georgia has won 40 of its past 41 games over the past three-plus seasons. One must go back to Alabama in 1977-80 to find an SEC team that can match such a win rate.

So, Georgia is in the midst of a historical period as a football program. Of this, the Bulldogs themselves are blissfully ignorant, or at least claim to be.

“We don’t talk about that; you guys talk about that,” said junior linebacker Jamon “Pop” Dumas-Johnson, who has walked off the field in defeat a grand total of once in his Georgia career. “We don’t even think about that. The only time I’ve thought about it was when you just asked. We play game-by-game. We’ve got a long week throughout each week to prepare for the games. So, a streak like doesn’t even come across our mind.”

Of course, Dumas-Johnson now is aware of the streak, as are other teammates. As the historical significance of it grows, they’re asked about it more and more.

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The topic this week has been whether there is some stress that comes keeping such a flawless run intact. There have, of course, been some close calls throughout this stretch. Georgia trailed both Missouri and Ohio State by double-digits in the fourth quarter last season. In four SEC games this season, the Bulldogs have had to rally from behind to win three of them.

The coming month-long stretch, which starts with the Gators on Saturday, promises to be much more formidable. Georgia’s four conference opponents to date have a combined SEC record of 3-14. The next four, which includes three ranked teams, are 11-5.

Florida, it must be pointed out, is the last regular-season opponent to defeat Georgia. That came Nov. 7, 2020, when it beat the Bulldogs 44-28 in Jacksonville.

But nobody’s stressing in UGA’s camp, or so they say.

“Not at all,” Georgia junior safety Javon Bullard said. “I don’t even know what win streak we’re on. We’re trying to win every game, so it really doesn’t matter. We go into every game with the same mindset. It doesn’t really matter how many games we’ve won, how many games we’ve lost, we’re trying to go in there and win every game. That’s our motto: ‘Do whatever we can to get the victory.’”

Nobody this side of Nick Saban has more experience with such a phenomenon than Georgia coach Kirby Smart. The author of the Bulldogs’ current run of success, he was involved in several other periods of perfection while coordinating Alabama’s defenses for Saban.

It will come as no surprise, then, to hear Smart say he’s focused only on “the process.”

“I don’t think about it a lot,” Smart said of Georgia’s undefeated streak. “I mean, what consumes me is how we’re going to gain a yard, what we’re going to do in this situation, what we’re going to do at practice. I can’t speak for every kid on the team, but the focus is not on the wins and losses of the games.

“Like I’ve said all the time, that’s going to come to an end. I’ve been a part of a lot of streaks. That’s going to come to an end at some point. When it does, we’ll worry about the next game, but I don’t think you can be consumed with that thought process or think that way. You’ve got to think towards what you can do to help your team win.”

Such thinking works, as Georgia’s streak attests.