Kirby Smart challenges Georgia fans to set new standard against Tennessee: ‘We’ll need them again’

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September 21, 2019 Athens - Georgia head coach Kirby Smart and players react during the second half in a NCAA college football at Sanford Stadium in Athens on Saturday, September 21, 2019. Georgia defeated Notre Dame 23-17. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

ATHENS — Kirby Smart has challenged the Georgia fan base before. He did so for his first spring game back in 2016, wanting 93,000 fans to pack Sanford Stadium for a spring game. There was the Notre Dame contest in 2019. Even last season, the Georgia fan base made a difference in a noon kickoff against Arkansas, forcing multiple false starts in the 37-0 win.

To start the week with No. 2 Tennessee coming to town, Smart is once again asking the Georgia fans to show up on Saturday and be loud. This time for the game against No. 2 Tennessee.

“Our guys are excited and looking forward to a top matchup in Sanford Stadium,” Smart said. “I know our fan base will be loud and proud. I want to challenge our fan base to be -- I mean, everybody talks about the Notre Dame game, but we want to be louder than that. We want to be there earlier than that. We had some great matchups last year here at home, and I thought they really affected the game each time we had a big matchup. So we’ll need them again and we’ll be ready to go.”

Georgia won that game against Notre Dame in 2019, forcing multiple presnap penalties as the visiting Irish struggled to handle the noise produced by the Georgia crowd.

On Sunday, Smart told fans that if they could talk, they weren’t yelling enough.

Related: Kirby Smart implores Georgia football fans to pack Sanford Stadium: ‘If you can talk when you leave, you didn’t yell enough’

Smart isn’t the only one expecting a fully wild crowd on Saturday, with players knowing it’s going to be a madhouse in Sanford Stadium. It’s only the third time in Sanford Stadium history that two top 5 teams have played each. The previous two were in 1942 and 1983.

Neither of those matchups featured No. 1 vs. No. 2 as Saturday’s game against Tennessee will be. In addition to the high rankings, the SEC East and a possible College Football Playoff berth are on the line.

“It’s going to be crazy,” offensive tackle Warren McClendon said. “I’m thinking back to the Arkansas game last year, the Kentucky game or maybe even back to freshman year with Notre Dame and how the crowd was. It’s expected the fans to be full blast. It’s going to be a fun game. I’m looking forward to it.”

Georgia is a nine-point favorite over the Volunteers. It won’t be the first big game Georgia or Tennessee have played this season, with both sides holding victories over top-10 foes in Oregon and Alabama respectively.

The Bulldogs do have an advantage in terms of playing in high-stakes games, what with them winning last season’s national championship.

And while this game might have a title game feel to it, the Georgia players also know they themselves can’t over-hype the game.

That is what the fans are for.

“We know it is going to be a big game, but we can’t treat it like it is the last game of the season,” defensive lineman Zion Logue said. W”e have to treat it like it is another game. Prepare like any other week and not stress anything and not override anything. We are just going out there to play football.”

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