Former Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Odell Thurman was a bad, bad man. He could dominate a college football game just by patrolling the middle of the field. The All-SEC performer made countless plays in Athens, but one truly stands above the rest.
Back on November 15, 2003, UGA hosted the Auburn Tigers at Sanford Stadium. The Bulldogs, under head coach Mark Richt, were coming off a rare loss to the Florida Gators in Jacksonville and looking to get back on track. Boy, did they ever.
Georgia smacked Auburn that night in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, and Thurman put the exclamation point on the 26-7 victory in a big-time way.
Odell Thurman’s Pick Six vs. Auburn
Heading into the classic SEC rivalry game, the University of Georgia had already captured several signature wins. The sixth-ranked Bulldogs had victories over ranked opponents such as South Carolina and Tennessee and rivalry wins over Clemson, Alabama, and Vanderbilt.
Losses to LSU and Florida stung, but Georgia football was out for redemption. Auburn just happened to be in the way.
Through three quarters, UGA simply dominated. Quarterback David Greene had a touchdown pass to Michael Johnson, running back Kregg Lumpkin found the end zone as well, and kicker Billy Bennett added a pair of field goals, including a 47-yard field goal for the game’s first points.
Then, early in the fourth quarter and Auburn looking to finally put points on the board on CBS, quarterback Jason Campbell’s third-down pass in the end zone was tipped and then caught by linebacker Odell Thurman, who raced 99 yards for a touchdown.
There have been some loud moments in Sanford Stadium. That interception, without a doubt, was one of the loudest. It sent Georgia fans into a frenzy.
After the victory, Georgia went on to beat Kentucky and Georgia Tech to end the regular season, but lost to LSU again at the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta before beating Purdue in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
Although Thurman’s NFL career with the Cincinnati Bengals didn’t exactly add up to the hype he created during his NCAA days in Athens, Ga., the memory of that interception return and touchdown will never, ever go away.
This post was originally published on July 6, 2020.