Jeb Blazevich said he is not sure exactly how many Auburn fans were present at Jordan-Hare Stadium when Georgia played there on Nov. 11. What the Georgia tight end does remember is the sight he took in when he was on the stadium’s field on earlier in November.
“It was an awesome environment,” Blazevich said. “I mean, going in there, you see the student section rocking.”
The capacity of Jordan-Hare Stadium, for the record, is 85,451. While not all of those present on Nov. 11, when the Tigers thrashed Georgia 40-17, were Auburn fans, the home team enjoyed a home field advantage, creating what tight end Isaac Nauta said was the “craziest” environment he has ever played in.
When Georgia and Auburn rematch on Saturday in the SEC Championship, it will be outside of Auburn’s own backyard and inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, giving Georgia’s offense one less issue to contend with.
The Bulldogs played in several away venues this season, including Notre Dame, Tennessee and Georgia Tech. While traveling Georgia fans diluted the Irish crowd at Notre Dame Stadium, Nauta said the team’s other away environments were not as electric as Auburn’s for another reason.
“Everybody else, we jumped on pretty early, so we were able to take the crowd out of it,” Nauta said.
While Georgia did take an early 7-0 lead on Auburn the first time the two teams played, the early success didn’t last and the tide quickly turned against the Bulldogs, who were outscored 16-0 after that first touchdown.
When Georgia and Auburn face off in the SEC Championship on Saturday, however, an entirely different type of crowd will be in the stands. The game is a neutral site, and huge numbers of fans from each team are expected to be in attendance.
The lack of an overwhelming home field advantage for the Tigers will make life easier for the Bulldogs this time around, Nauta said.
“Once a team gets rolling at home, the crowd gets into it,” Nauta said. “That’s always hard to battle against.”
Not only will there be less noise when the offense is on the field, making it more difficult for players to hear play calls and snap counts, but the opposing defense will not be able to feed off the energy a home crowd provides, offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn said.
All of those issues will likely be diminished for Georgia’s offense on Saturday, with neither team able to claim a true home advantage.
“We’re playing in a dome, and it’s going to be half-and-half, so it’s going to be a great atmosphere for both of us,” Nauta said.