Now that the College Football playoffs are settled, Georgia football finds themselves traveling South to Miami to face off against the Michigan Wolverines in the Orange Bowl.
The Orange Bowl will be played in Miami at the Hard Rock Stadium on December 31, and as bowl game locations go, Miami is about as good as it gets for Georgia football and its traveling fans.
Who wouldn’t want to spend their New Year’s eve in a warm place near the water? Honestly, sand is better than snow.
Georgia football may have wanted Dallas, but Miami is the perfect semifinal spot.
As we know, head coach Kirby Smart preaches about the consistency of preparation and routine. Traveling the relatively short distance into Florida gives the Bulldogs a massive advantage in this matchup.
In heading south to Coral Gables, this trip is perfect and its all about location, location, location for the Bulldogs.
Miami is a short flight from Atlanta — less than a two-hour flight. This short travel time allows Smart and his coaching staff about as much time to prepare in Athens before heading down to Florida.
It will be akin to an SEC conference game in terms of preparation, which suits the Dawgs. The trip from Detroit for the Wolverines is longer, both physically and mentally, which should put the Dawgs at an advantage.
Then think about the climate in Miami and how it will remain temperate for the time of year. Compared with a more northern bowl game where the cold will come into play. Granted, the other semifinal game in Dallas will be a bit chillier, but it’ll all depend on that Texas weather. For now, though, it seems Miami is a better choice for avoiding the cold.
It is debatable whether this assists the Wolverines more, but Michigan will travel from frigid temperatures to the south. Plunging Georgia football players into the cold would have a much greater negative impact.
Playing in Miami means that Georgia stays in the same time zone, which is key. Playing in, say, the Rose Bowl throws game prep into an entirely different dimension. The gameday logistics team will only have to tackle maybe once or twice in a season.
So to keep the trip as short and disruption-free will be essential to someone like Smart, whose attention to detail is vital to maintaining their schedule. The impact of taking the players out of their regular schedules and usual environments cannot be over estimated.
With perhaps the exception of New Orleans or Vegas, where else would Georgia fans want to celebrate New Years than in the Magic City? Ocean Drive, South Beach, Little Havana? Think of Georgia football fans strolling along Ocean Drive with a Mojito or Daiquiri in hand.
Sounds ideal to me, but seriously, in the same way that the short trip is beneficial to the team, it is also attractive to its fanbase making it an easy trip to make.
The game is sold out with expectations that Hard Rock Stadium will be as much a sea of red as Mercedes Benz Stadium was for the SEC Championship game.
So in a game of fine margins, Smart and his staff will gratefully receive any advantage to be gained. Georgia will find out if Miami will be kind at the end of the month.