Kirby Smart: Georgia arrives in Indianapolis for CFP Championship comfortable in big-game environment

010722 Indianapolis: Georgia head coach Kirby Smart takes a few questions during the College Football Playoff National Championship team arrivals at Indianapolis Airport on Friday, Jan. 7, 2022, in Indianapolis. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

INDIANAPOLIS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs continued to take a businesslike approach on their championship quest upon their Friday night airport arrival.

No pressure, mind you, just focus.

“It feels good, the mood is great, we’ve had good practices and we’re excited to be here,” Smart said at the Indianapolis Aiport. “Our guys are fired up.”

The Bulldogs play Alabama at 8 p.m. on Monday in the CFP Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium in a rematch of the Dec. 4 SEC Championship Game, won by the Tide.

Georgia earned a second chance to take down Nick Saban and Alabama by dominating Michigan in the CFP Orange Bowl on Dec. 31 by a 34-11 count.

Smart declined his players’ attempt to shower him with the traditional “Gatorade Bath” that night, making it clear the primary goal was still ahead.

Georgia also declined the opportunity to have its marching band greet them at the airport, as Alabama’s had done for the Tide an hour or so earlier.

Smart explained why the Bulldogs didn’t need any reminders that this is a big game.

This veteran Georgia team knows what a big game environment feels like, and Smart is confident they know how to handle it after the Bulldogs carried the No. 1 ranking for eight consecutive weeks this season.

“Every guy is unique, we have some young players that will have more anxiety, but that anxiety will be way down because of the games they’ve played in,” Smart said. “This team opened with Clemson, that was a really big game, I mean a really big game.

“We went on the road and at Auburn and played with a lot of guys injured and sick and out,” he said. “They’ve played on some big stages now, the SEC Championship, the Orange Bowl.

“What happens is you get a little more comfortable when you get in those environments.”

It’s as much business as usual, as anything.

“We’re in the playoffs all year, if we lose there’s a chance you aren’t going to advance,” Smart said, asked about Georgia getting hot with the win over Michigan. “So it’s the value of the regular season that makes it where every game matters.”

And this one does matter to the extent that Smart said he can sense it from his family members around him and in his heart, even while insulated from the general public.

“We work in a little bit of a bubble,” Smart said, asked if he could feel how much Georgia fans want this national title. “I feel it more because of the people around my family, and being a Georgia person.”

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