Over the weekend, I was able to take my first trip to Athens, Ga. to see UGA’s Heisman hopeful Todd Gurley in person. Being a loyal Gamecock, I was apprehensive going in. I was expecting to have zero fun.
My girlfriend and I rolled in to Athens at about 10:30 am on Saturday. We went to meet up with one of my best friends and his girlfriend, both loyal Dawgs.
As we got our day started, there was a different vibe. I’ve been to many SEC tailgates/games, but this one had a different feel. The passion in town was very obvious, as everyone was ready to see the Dawgs unleash a beatdown on Vanderbilt.
After hanging out with friends, we made the walk to Sanford Stadium, passing by the beautiful Foley Baseball Stadium and Stegeman Coliseum. We also passed several academic buildings and what seemed like unlimited dining halls.
I went to a small school in Tennessee, so it was definitely a new experience. I’m used to everything being within walking distance, and definitely no more than one dining hall. I’m also not used to playing my baseball games in a stadium. We had a field, at best.
During our walk, the environment was electric. A sea of red was all that we could see. People were chanting “U-G-A” and singing the Georgia fight song, which I heard a lot of.
When we made it to our seats, I was quickly spotted as an outsider. As part of the Gamecock faithful, I could not bring myself to wear the red of Georgia. I had on my garnet and black Nike fleece and people were starting to notice. I expected some kind of trouble, seeing as the Gamecocks had snuck away with a 35-32 victory just a few weeks before. Trouble was nowhere to be found, as I heard a lot of “y’all got us, but too bad you couldn’t get Mizzou!” and “How’s it feel to beat the team that will represent the SEC East in Atlanta AGAIN?!”
When the game started, people stopped paying attention to me, and focused on Todd Gurley. No matter what he did, people rose to their feet and screamed. He is a god in Athens, and everyone loves him. It didn’t hurt that he rushed for 163-yards and two touchdowns. He also threw a 50-yard pass, Georgia’s longest of the season. He performed what is quickly becoming his signature move, hurdling a would-be-tackler and stealing a few more yards. He can do it all. Georgia outmatched Vanderbilt in every phase of the game, en route to a 44-17 victory.
After the game, we headed downtown to meet up with more people. We started the night at Fuzzy’s, a fun postgame spot, to grab some food. I was getting excited to watch my Gamecocks rebound from Mizzou and take it to Kentucky, especially being in Athens. After the first stop, we headed to Silver Dollar to enjoy the atmosphere of an excellent college town. The Gamecocks were tied with Kentucky at halftime. I was a little worried, but confident in our second half ability. That proved to be a mistake.
Our final stop of the night was to Allgood Lounge to have a nightcap and watch the Gamecocks finish it off. That’s where I watched the collapse. In a bar. In Athens. Surrounded by Dawgs. When Kentucky scored 21-unanswered points and Dylan Thompson threw his third interception (!), all hell broke loose. Everyone around me was cheering, chanting and doing the “sic-em” chant and bark. It was time to go.
We got home and crashed. When we woke up, Athens provided one more treat in the form of Mama’s Boy. The food there was delicious, and proved to be exactly what we needed after the night we had.
My first trip to Athens ended too soon. It feels like right when we arrived, it was time to go. It is one of the best college football experiences I have ever had, and look forward to going back. Maybe when I do, it could be for a 2015 Gamecock victory. Maybe.
*Section photo credit to AJ Reynolds/Staff; Featured Photo (above) credit to Gridiron Belles/Staff