[Photo: Don't let the smile fool you. You call it "ping pong" and this dude will send a 0.25 ounce plastic ball through your spleen.]
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, big home games.
This game with Auburn shapes up to be a monster Between the Hedges.
First, it's at night. We haven't played a meaningful night game this late in the season since 1997 vs. Auburn. That was a night that started poorly with an injury to Hines Ward and then got progressively worse by the minute.
Second, it's for the SEC East title. The closest we've come to having a shot at clinching a title of any type at home at night would again be the 1997 Auburn game. With a win there, we still would have lost the tie breaker to the Vols, but we likely would've gotten a bid to a Big 4 bowl.
Late season meaningful home night games are extremely rare in Athens. Heck, clinching titles in the day time hasn't exactly been an every year occurance. The last day time start for a home clincher was the Auburn game in 2003. Before that you have to go back to 1983 vs. Auburn for a day game clinch attempt. That one started late in the afternoon and ended at night. Something like 10-3 for the Tigers.
Anyway, the crowd on Saturday shapes up to be one of Sanford's all-time best. Since I have been following the Dawgs (1989), here are the best home crowds that I've seen (day or night):
- As loud as Sanford has ever been. Loudest moment: LSU's kick returner takes a knee on the 1 inch line in front of the student section. Jamarcus Russell leads the Tigers out on offense to a wall of noise.
2. Tennessee - 2000
- A blood thirsty crowd with 12 years of pain and a 9 game losing streak meets a full day of drinking and a 7:45 kickoff. Of course it was rowdy. Loudest moment: Wansley's INT to seal it.
3. Auburn - 2003
- We needed this game to win the East, and the team answered the bell with a rare Georgia blowout in the series. Loudest Moment: Odell Thurman's 99 yard INT.
Others of Note:
Tennessee 2004 - This was a loud crowd, but the offense was so bad that we didn't have as much to cheer about.
Auburn 1997 - This one started off loud, but ended with a whimper.
Alabama 1976 - I wasn't there, but everyone that was there swears that this was as loud and wild a crowd as we've ever had in Athens.
There's no reason that we can't have that type of crowd this week. In fact, we NEED that type of crowd. The sort of crowd that's teetering on the brink of a riot. A less violent version of the Death Valley crowd in Baton Rouge would be ideal.
This game is for a shot at the Sugar Bowl. And as an added bonus, we can ruin the Gators' season and Auburn's season all in the same evening. What else could you want from a football game?
Wear Red. Pace yourself drinking. Don't peak too soon! Stand up. Cheer loud. Go home hoarse, but proud.
He's baaaaacck! Photo from georgiadogs.com.