SOUTH BEND Ind. — The primary memory most Notre Dame players have about the 2017 game against Georgia is profound disappointment. The Fighting Irish lost 20-19 to the Bulldogs and watched as UGA went on to the national championship while that early-season defeat held them back from achieving similar greatness.
But for Tommy Kraemer, who got his second career start at offensive guard that night, he still marvels at all the Georgia fans that filed into Notre Dame Stadium and that curious cell-phone tradition the Irish witnessed late in the game.
It’s well known within the DawgNation as “Light Up Sanford” — or wherever the Bulldogs happen to be playing — during the intermission between the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth as the Redcoat Band plays the song “Krypton” of Superman fame. But when 40,000 fans fired up their cellphone lights and began waving them up and down to the music, the Notre Dame players had no idea what was going on.
“That was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had playing football — and it wasn’t even our tradition!” said Kraemer, a 6-foot-6, 319-pound senior from Cincinnati. “It was cool to see, and our fans picked up on it, too. No one really knew what was going on.”
Kraemer still isn’t entirely sure. When asked what he remembered about that 2017 game he talked about all the Georgia fans that half-filled Notre Dame Stadium
“I don’t know if there was a hurricane down South or what but it brought up a ton of Georgia fans. The stadium was half full of them,” Kraemer said. “Notre Dame Stadium is never like that. Usually you might see a little bit of red in the top-left corner or something. But it was about half-and-half that night. That was pretty neat actually.”
Kraemer said they knew a lot of UGA fans were there, but it wasn’t until “the lights thing happened at halftime or in the third quarter or whenever in was.”
“That was one of the coolest things I’ve seen,” Kraemer said.
If he thought that was something, Kraemer really will be blown away when the Irish visit Sanford Stadium for the first time ever on Sept. 21 this fall. A kickoff time hasn’t been determined yet but it’s anticipated to be a primetime, night-time game. When more that 80,000 Georgia fans “light up Sanford” simultaneously, it can be a truly an awesome sight.
“Our first game is against Louisville, so we’re really getting ready for that, but we know Georgia will be a special one,” Kraemer said. “I’ve heard some cool things about Sanford Stadium, that it’s a really cool atmosphere. It’s two really great programs so it should be a fun game.”