Georgia vs. South Carolina is a rivalry. A lot of Bulldogs fans don't want to admit that, but it's true, and Georgia football has itself to blame for its creation.
Before the Gamecocks joined the SEC in 1992, they were already playing the Bulldogs frequently. Georgia and South Carolina met 29 times between 1958 and 1989, with Georgia winning 20 of those games. The two teams played sparingly before 1958 with Georgia winning all but two games.
When South Carolina finally joined the SEC, Georgia led the all-time series 33-9-2. Not exactly a rivalry, and if Georgia maintained that dominance over the Gamecocks, the series would not be a rivalry today. But Georgia hasn't continued that dominance. Instead, since the early 1990s, South Carolina has made Georgia a stepping stone for more consistent success within the SEC.
The Gamecocks beat Georgia in 1993 and 1996, and finished above Georgia in the SEC East standings in 1993, 1994 and 1996. That was a huge blackeye for Georgia's program at the time, considering Tennessee and Florida were powerhouses. Georgia knew it belonged at the top with the Volunteers and Gators, but were somehow finishing lower than the new school in the conference.
That's when Georgia-South Carolina became a rivalry, and it's only grown from there. Just when it seems like Georgia finally has put South Carolina back in place, the Gamecocks find a new way to stun the Bulldogs.
In 2000, after losing 21 games across the 1998-99 seasons, South Carolina defeated Georgia 21-10 in Columbia. The Gamecocks ultimately finished second in the SEC East behind Florida and Georgia fired head coach Jim Donnan after a third-place finish in the division. South Carolina beat Georgia again in 2001 and stayed ahead of the Bulldogs in the SEC East standings the rest of the way.
From 2002-09, Georgia seemingly had South Carolina where it belonged. The games were always tough and competitive, but the Bulldogs came out on top in eight of the nine meetings. Highlights of the era include David Pollack's end-zone theft in 2002, DJ Shockley's flip for a touchdown in 2005 and dazzling touchdowns by Branden Smith and Brandon Boykin in 2009.
Despite Georgia's dominance, something happened during this period that took the rivalry to a new level, and would ultimately lead to its first golden age: South Carolina hired Steve Spurrier.
Spurrier coached Florida to prominence in the 1990s, dominating the SEC and winning the 1996 National Championship. With Spurrier as head coach, the Gators beat Georgia 11 times from 1990-2001, and most of those games were incredibly lopsided.
Spurrier's presence on South Carolina's sideline made them one of Georgia's most hated teams. The Gamecocks' victory over the Bulldogs in 2007 was a particularly sickening loss for the fan base, made worse by the fact that the 16-12 loss kept Georgia from playing for a BCS National Championship. However, the worst was about to come for Georgia.
In 2010, Georgia's failure to contain running back Marcus Latimore and generate any kind of offense led to a 17-6 win for South Carolina. The Gamecocks went on to win their first SEC East Championship that season.
Three turnovers, a fake punt and one bomb to receiver Alshon Jeffery helped South Carolina beat Georgia 45-42 in 2011. In 2012, an All-America caliber performance by defensive end Jadeveon Clowney led to a 35-7 embarrassment for Georgia. Finally, in 2014, Georgia's failures on offense in the closing minutes preserved a 38-35 win for South Carolina.
For the first time in the rivalry's history, South Carolina was the dominant team. But the Gamecocks' dominance isn't why this period is the series' golden era. The era was special because Georgia got the last laugh. Despite losing in 2011 and 2012, Georgia took control of its own destiny and won the SEC East championship. The Bulldogs won an entertaining matchup in 2013 and still managed to beat South Carolina in the standings in 2014.
This era ended with Georgia giving Spurrier one of his worst losses as a head coach when the Bulldogs beat South Carolina 52-20. Often maligned quarterback Grayson Lambert completed 24-of-25 passes for 330 yards with three scores and running back Nick Chubb ran for 159 yards with two touchdowns. Spurrier retired from South Carolina before the season ended.
Georgia seemingly had the rivalry under control again after it sent Spurrier packing. The Bulldogs won a couple of snoozers in 2016 and 2017, before filling a highlight reel in a 41-17 blowout in 2018.
But 2019 was a harsh reminder that South Carolina is, and will always be, one of Georgia's most formidable rivals. The Gamecocks exposed Georgia's offense in a 20-17 double-overtime, upset victory.
South Carolina is far from being Georgia's oldest rival, or most hated rival. There's no neutral site to give meetings pageantry and SEC East titles rarely hang in the balance. Georgia still leads the all-time series 51-19-2, and overall is a superior football program. Yet, in 28 years as an SEC program, South Carolina has carved itself a spot among Georgia's pantheon of rivals.