For much of the life of the series, Clemson-Georgia wasn't much to write home about.
At least not from the Upstate perspective.
Clemson was to Georgia much as Presbyterian was to Clemson.
From 1915 until 1973, Clemson and Georgia played 24 times. The Tigers won once.
Things appeared headed for a change in 1974. The Tigers, on their way to a decent 7-4 season, beat the Bulldogs 28-24 at Death Valley. But a year later, Georgia pummeled the Tigers 35-7 in Athens, and the next year, in 1976, the ninth-ranked Bulldogs humiliated Clemson on its own home field, 41-0.
When first-year head coach Charley Pell took his Tigers to Athens on Sept. 17, 1977 - coming off a season-opening loss at home to Maryland - Clemson fans were undoubtedly steeling themselves for more of the same.
Instead, they were elated by a stunning 7-6 victory over Vince Dooley's top-20 Bulldogs.
Thus, unexpectedly, began a decade-plus series of games that put the Clemson-Georgia rivalry on the national map, and which has continued to rile up Tiger and Dawg fans even until today.
Clemson and Georgia officials had arranged every-season meetings through 1987. Little did they know they had set the stage for one of the most classic, competitive runs in the history of both storied programs - a series in which each team took turns breaking the other's heart.
From 1977 until 1987 Clemson and Georgia battled to a perfect 5-5-1 draw.
More significant than the series bottom line was the competitiveness of each contest.
In 1978, Georgia 'routed' the Tigers 12-0 in Athens. It was the most lopsided score of the entire 11-year run.
During the course of the decade, both teams achieved national championships at the expense of the other.
Neither has won a national title since.
Just 80 miles of backroads separate the Clemson and Georgia campuses. But for the last quarter century, the teams have played just six times.
Since the Tigers overwhelmed the Dawgs 34-3 in 1990 (Ken Hatfield's first year at the helm), Georgia has beaten the Tigers five straight times, including a 19-17 victory in 1995 that spoiled Clemson's 100-year anniversary celebration.
The teams last met in 2003, with Georgia cruising to dishearteningly easy 30-0 win at Death Valley.
When the Dawgs and Tigers meet this weekend, fans are be expecting a return to the gloriously competitive days of 1977-87.
This year's game shapes up as a toss-up. One top-10 team will win, the other top-10 team will lick its wounds and move on. No sister-kissing ties, in Frank Howard's parlance, allowed.
Today we begin a look back at the decade-long struggle that has helped make this year's Clemson-Georgia clash the hottest ticket in college football.
1977: Clemson 7, Georgia 6
It was tough to see this one coming.
Defensive-minded Charley Pell took over the Clemson program in 1977, following a 3-6-2, winless-in-the-ACC season that cost popular coach Red Parker his job. The short-lived Pell era started with a competitive showing in a 21-14 loss to 10th-ranked Maryland, and the Tigers faced their second straight top-20 program when they made the short drive to Athens for the second game of the season.
Like so many of the classic Clemson-Georgia games to follow, this one was filled with 'what ifs' for both teams.
The game, which was played in a steady rain, saw neither team reach the 300-yard mark in total offense. Clemson scored first, capitalizing on a fumbled punt - one of four Bulldog turnovers - at midfield. Quarterback Steve Fuller hit Jerry Butler for a 15-yard gain, and then followed with a 17-yarder to Dwight Clark for a first-and-goal at the Georgia six.
Two plays later, after a penalty against the Bulldogs moved the ball closer, Lester Brown scored on two-yard run, and the PAT put Clemson on top 7-0.
It stayed that way until the closing seconds, as the Clemson defense made a fourth-down stand inside the 20, and followed with a third-down stop in the red zone that forced a missed Georgia field goal.
The Bulldogs got a final chance when Fuller fumbled at the Georgia 42. The Dogs then pulled off a stunning big play - a 50-yard pass from tight end Ulysses Norris to wide receiver Jesse Murray off a lateral from quarterback Jeff Pyburn. With six seconds left on the clock, Pyburn hit Norris with an eight-yard touchdown pass.
Vince Dooley went for the win via a two-point conversion attempt; but confusion reigned as the Bulldogs were set back by a delay of game penalty. When they finally snapped the ball from the Clemson eight, the Tigers had just 10 men on the field. One of them, defensive end Steve Gibbs, got his hand on Pyburn's pass for Norris, and the Tigers celebrated their first victory at Sanford Stadium since 1914.
1978: Georgia 12, Clemson 0
The No. 18 Tigers arrived in Athens as a favorite for the first time in half a century, and departed with a 12-0 setback that proved to be the only blemish on an extraordinary season.
"We gave a good, solid Georgia team a chance to whip us," said Charley Pell, whose Tigers turned the ball over six times, most often when driving toward the Bulldog end zone. "They executed their game plan better than we executed ours."
Vince Dooley's Dawgs didn't forgive Clemson its mistakes.
Four times the Tigers lost the ball inside the Georgia 30. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, cashed in on their chances for a pair of first-half field goals by Rex Robinson, and then put together an 80-yard, eight-minute touchdown drive to open the second half. Jeff Pyburn, throwing off-balance in the face of a blitz by linebacker Randy Scott, hit Carmon Prince with an 11-yard touchdown pass.
Clemson's hopes of a comeback ended with a pair of fourth-quarter turnovers - a lost fumble by Fuller inside the Georgia 20, and an interception at midfield by Scott Woerner, who leaped in front of freshman receiver Perry Tuttle for the takeaway.
1979: Clemson 12, Georgia 7
Clemson's rushing defense and rushing offense ruled during Georgia's visit to Death Valley, as the Danny Ford-coached Tigers held the Bulldogs to 68 yards rushing and less than 250 total yards while rolling up more than 300 yards of their own on the ground. Three interceptions of passes by Georgia's Buck Belue also aided Clemson's cause.
After a scoreless first half, the Tigers broke through midway through the third quarter with a 70-yard touchdown drive. A 33-yard run by fullback Tracy Perry set up a three-yard touchdown run by Lester Brown. The Tigers added a safety when Bob Goldberg and Eddie Geathers combine to sack Jeff Pyburn in the end zone. The Tigers boosted their lead to 12-0 midway through the fourth quarter, when a 37-yard burst up the middle by fullback Marvin Sims set up a 24-yard field goal by Obed Ariri.
Georgia, which at that point had gained just 150 total yards, got on the board late with a 92-yard touchdown drive.