Despite Georgia's recent dominance against Georgia Tech, the game against the Yellow Jackets two years ago remains fresh on the Bulldogs' minds.
Georgia entered Sanford Stadium that day with a five-game winning streak against Georgia Tech and exited with a six-point overtime loss. The aftermath of Georgia Tech cornerback D.J. White's interception in the extra session remains a sore subject to many Bulldogs, partly because the Yellow Jackets players then tore off parts of the hedges surrounding the field to keep as souvenirs.
For those involved, beating Georgia Tech 13-7 in Atlanta last season does not expunge what went down the last time in Athens.
"It was a very tough feeling to see those guys rip up the hedges like that," linebacker Davin Bellamy said. "It left some vendetta in our spirits. We came out last year, went to their house and did the same thing. We know these guys are going to come here fired up because we were fired up when they did that to us. It's going to be a physical, physical game."
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Several of Georgia's contributors today were on hand for that last loss, although most weren't playing as much as they are today.
Tight end Jeb Blazevich was a freshman when the Yellow Jackets upended the Bulldogs two seasons ago. The North Carolina native Blazevich, who ended the game with one reception for 6 yards, may not have understood how much the rivalry meant before that matchup.
He definitely can't say that anymore.
"It's not just you have to deal with it for a week or a month," Blazevich said. "That game will last you a solid year until you get that chance to play them again. I definitely felt that one."
Defensive back Dominick Sanders watched from the sidelines as White hauled in the game-winning pick and sent the Yellow Jackets into a frenzy. The defeat wasn't one he was able to simply shake off and forget.
"We learned a lot that year," Sanders said. "After that, I really had the mindset of this game is bigger than what people thought it was. We've got to have our minds right."
Sanders' tough learning moment is one this year's team hopes to avoid. He said the players held a meeting on Sunday for the sake of the younger guys, explaining to them the gravity of the game.
It's a lesson that not only the veterans can attest to, but also the team's first-year head coach.
Georgia hasn't dropped consecutive games to Georgia Tech in Athens since 1998 and 2000. First-year head coach Kirby Smart was a senior on the 1998 team that fell to the Yellow Jackets 21-19 in dramatic fashion. Smart spoke to his team about his experience in the rivalry and about avoiding such circumstances.
"He told us about how he still thinks about his last time at Sanford Stadium against Georgia Tech going out with an L," Bellamy said. "He said it's a tough feeling that he hasn't really gotten over yet."
Offensive lineman Greg Pyke is now in the position his head coach faced 18 years ago. As a senior, Pyke is entering his last matchup with "those guys over in Atlanta," as he described the Yellow Jackets. His record against Georgia Tech is 2-1, and he has no intentions of seeing a repeat of that lone loss.
"As a fifth-year guy here, you don't want to lose to Tech," Pyke said. "You don't want to give them the satisfaction for the next 365 days that they run this state or whatever they say. I want to go out on top with a win in Sanford."
Sanders said there is some love in this game since there are familiar faces on the other side, including youth football teammate Clinton Lynch and former Bulldog J.J. Green. Familiar faces aside, Sanders maintains he can't take another November afternoon like the one he experienced two seasons ago.
"I just don't want to be in that type of atmosphere anymore," Sanders said. "It's going to be the other way around. We're going to be kicking them off the field."