The momentum of 1980 continued into September 1981 for the Georgia Bulldogs as Herschel Walker and company took control early in the season by scoring early and often in wins against Tennessee (44–0) and the Cal Golden Bears (27–13). Against the Volunteers, Walker rushed for 161 yards on 30 carries.[n 1]
After hitting a dip in the season, losing 13–3 to eventual national champion Clemson, Georgia regained its focus and won out to get to 10–1 by the regular season's end. Even though Walker was able to push, shove, and get through Clemson's defense by rushing 28 times for 111 yards, it wasn't enough to overcome 9 turnovers by the Bulldogs in the loss to the Tigers.
Georgia and Walker rebounded by blanking South Carolina, 24–0, on September 26 as the sophomore running back ran for 176 yards on 36 carries. Georgia, however, only led 3–0 at the half. Walker opened things up for the Bulldogs in the third quarter by scoring on touchdown runs of 3 and 8 yards to put the Gamecocks away.
Walker's Bulldogs reeled off solid wins—all in October—over Ole Miss (37-7), Vanderbilt (53-21), Kentucky (21-0), and Temple (49-3). He rushed for a season-high 265 yards on 41 attempts and a touchdown against Mississippi on October 10.
On November 7, seventh-ranked Georgia got behind, 14–0, down in Jacksonville, to the Florida Gators, but came back to win in a repeat score of last season's game, 26–21. Walker rushed a career-high 47 times for 192 yards while scoring four touchdowns.
The Bulldogs finished out the regular season at home against nearby rivals: the Auburn Tigers (November 14) and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (December 5). The 24–13 win over coach Pat Dye's Tigers clinched a 2nd SEC Championship in a row for Georgia. In the third quarter, Walker's 2-yard touchdown run gave the Bulldogs a commanding 24–7 lead. Walker pounded out 165 yards on 37 rushes during the contest. Georgia led Auburn 17-7 at the half as senior quarterback Buck Belue complimented Walker's power ground game by throwing for two touchdowns.
Against Georgia Tech, seniors Belue and Scott set the tone on the game's first play by hooking up on an 80-yard pass as Scott raced into the end zone to spark a 34–0 halftime lead. Walker got into the act by scoring three touchdowns in the first half. He added a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter as Georgia cruised past the Yellow Jackets, 44–7. Walker finished with 36 rushes for 225 yards and 4 touchdowns in the rivalry matchup.
Riding an 8-game winning streak, Georgia (10–1) was ranked No. 2 in the country when they faced Pittsburgh (also 10–1, ranked No. 10) in the 1982 Sugar Bowl. Walker made his presence felt early as he bolted 8 yards for a touchdown in the 2nd quarter giving Georgia a 7–0 lead. After a 30-yard, Dan Marino touchdown pass lifted Pitt to a 10-7 lead in third quarter, Walker answered. Walker scored from 10 yards out to give Georgia a 14–10 lead going into the 4th quarter. With Georgia clinging to a 20–17 lead late in the game, Marino found Pittsburgh's receiver John Brown for a 33-yard touchdown pass with 0:35 left in the game. Walker's Bulldogs came up short in the loss, 20–24. He finished with 25 rushes for 84 yards and led UGA in receptions with 3 catches for 53 yards.