It was a simple challenge from Georgia football coach Kirby Smart.
Commissioner Kirby lit up the Dawg-Signal for Georgia fans to pack Sanford Stadium and rock the Razorbacks with their explosive energy. Like the superheroes they are, Georgia fans responded.
The Georgia student section – led by Spike Squad and Paint Line, the tag team champions of fan engagement – filled to capacity by 10:30 am. By the noon kickoff against the Hogs, Sanford Stadium was alive.
The noise in the stadium was deafening and directly impacted the game from Arkansas’s first offensive possession, with the Hogs being whistled for false starts on their first two plays. Before they could blink, it was 1st & 20 from their own 7.
With 4:26 remaining in the first quarter and Arkansas starting their second offensive possession trailing 14-0, ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe reported on the raucous nature of the home crowd.
I wanted to put it in perspective how noisy it is down here. We were at Penn State for a night ‘Whiteout’ with 109,000 people a couple of weeks ago in Happy Valley – it was 105 decibels. Today, in this endzone, it’s 110 decibels.
Rowe was reporting from the east endzone, which is the one beside the student section. The same student section buoyed by front row leaders Spike Squad and Paint Line.
For context on the crowd noise against Arkansas, capacity at Sanford Stadium is 92,746. With 16,000 less people in attendance, Georgia fans eclipsed the decibel levels of a primetime kickoff at Happy Valley during a Whiteout game. And Dawgs fans did it at noon.
Postgame, Kirby Smart led off his press conference by speaking on the crowd and the impact Georgia football fans had on the outcome of the game.
My opening remark is how incredible our fan base is. I think all you guys will admit they were elite and we noticed it. To come in warmups and out of the tunnel, to look up there and see every seat filled for a noon kick is special and they impacted the game. I thought on the first offensive series for Arkansas, our fans were extremely disruptive. I thought our crowd impacted the blocked punt in terms of cadence and things like that which forced the touchdown. So, I give our fans at least 10 points, and that’s big.
Georgia football undoubtedly has a distinct home field advantage playing at Sanford Stadium, but this season feels different. This season, playing Between the Hedges is downright daunting.
Texas A&M has one of, if not the most notorious fanbases in all of college football. Their student section (of 40,000!) is so noted for their impact on Aggies home games that they are known far and wide as “The 12th Man“. The provide such an advantage, it’s as if Texas A&M is playing on both sides of the ball with an extra player.
Through the first half of the 2021 college football season, no fanbase in America has given their team more juice than the Georgia faithful.
The No. 1 ranked Dawgs have shown they have plenty of bark and bite this season, but when they line up Between the Hedges, they’re getting an extra push from the home crowd. Kind of feels like they have an extra player on the field. An extra Dawg. The 12th Dawg.
For the second consecutive home game, Georgia will host an undefeated conference opponent in a marquee matchup that brought College GameDay back to the Classic City for the second time this season.
Kentucky joins Arkansas as opponents on Georgia’s home schedule in the nobody-had-us-sniffing-the-Top-10-on-their-preseason-Bingo-card category.
When the upstart Wildcats take the field to tee it up Between the Hedges on Saturday, they’ll be confronted with a harrowing presence inside Sanford Stadium. The 12th Dawg will be barking and the Cats will quickly learn, that Dawg bites.