ATHENS — With every day that passes, Georgia football fans are getting closer to the national championship game.
But before Georgia’s football team takes on Alabama for the title Monday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia’s men’s basketball faced the Tide on Saturday in Athens.
A few days before the game Saturday, Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox called for Bulldogs fans to show up for both teams.
“If we are going to beat Alabama on Saturday and on Monday, we cannot do it with just student-athletes,” Fox said after Georgia’s win Wednesday over Ole Miss. “We are going to need the power of the Bulldog Nation to help both our team and Coach [Kirby] Smart’s team. I know how much our fans are excited about this opportunity and have waited a long time for it, but it doesn’t come around often and so now that we have the opportunity, I know it may take your life savings, but get your butt in that Benz.”
Georgia fans showed up in droves Saturday at Stegeman Coliseum. Before the game, DawgNation spoke to Alabama and Georgia fans to hear their thoughts, reactions and predictions for the national title game on Monday:
Curtis Wells – middle schooler from North Georgia on keys to the game and favorite player: “I think if they can tame Jalen Hurts, they will win. Roquan Smith [Wells’ favorite player]. I play middle linebacker and the way that he commands the team is pretty awesome.”
Rachel Atkeison – Alabama fan on her predictions: “I feel pretty good, but I also feel that it is going to be a challenge. Alabama has been playing really well, mainly on defense, but I mean you can’t count out Georgia because they have been doing great things, too. I don’t want to predict anything, but I feel like [Alabama] has a really good hand on the game because our team is just matching up together. They are working together really well and practicing really hard.”
Bryan Wlodar – Georgia grad who brought his son (Charlie, age 4) to the game: “It was hard to believe. I went to school here in the ’90s back when the team wasn’t so good. I just had to keep telling myself that this was not a dream. Pinch me.”
Charlie Wlodar – son of Bryan, on his favorite player … or maybe not: “Hairy [Dawg], because when he sees someone littering, he tackles them.”
Anna Cerjan – junior at UGA: “It has been really exciting for me, as a junior, because I remember our freshman year we didn’t have a great season. It has been really great to see the progression, I mean this is only the second year that Kirby Smart has been coaching and that is exciting that this is happening so quickly.”
Melissa Lewandowski – junior at UGA: “I actually went to the Alabama game and I suffered through in the rain. I stayed the whole entire time. I witnessed the Hail Mary touchdown for Tennessee, the loss to Vandy, everything. And now just to be able to see us rise from the ashes has been such an awesome experience for me.”
Wil Wynn – recent enrollee at UGA: “This is my first semester here and it looks like we came in at just the right time. It is so fun to get to see campus with everyone excited. All of social media is just buzzing about Georgia right now, too.”
Ross Wynn – brother of Wil, also a student at UGA: “It has been exciting to see the season not only for the students but for the parents, the fans, everybody. They have all wanted to see this happen for a long time because we have been through such tough seasons, but this new era that Kirby Smart has brought to the team, it’s just exciting to watch.”
Jason Clark – Georgia fan, father of Ethan Clark (an Alabama fan), on having a house divided: “We will be in the same house [to watch the game]. As long as he is living in our house, I guess we will let him stay with us. But yeah, we will be there watching it together, giving each other a hard time the whole time.”
Ethan Clark – Alabama fan on his expectations for this game: “It’s going to be hard because whichever one wins, it’s going to back and forth no matter what.”
Fox – comments on the national championship after beating Alabama on the court 65-46: “I will say that the fact that we play the same team [Saturday] that we play on Monday night and we decided to wear the silver britches [Saturday], we darn sure better back it up [on Monday].”