Alabama visit creating quite a stir at Georgia

Georgia football fans have been eagerly awaiting Alabama's arrival for this Saturday's game in Sanford Stadium, especially given the result of the Crimson Tide's last visit in 2008.

Bulldogs glance

* No. 8 Georgia (4-0, 2-0 SEC) vs. No. 13 Alabama (3-1, 0-1) * Sanford Stadium * Saturday, 3:30 p.m. * CBS & 102.3 FM and 97.3/99.3 FM

photo Georgia running back Nick Chubb (27) tries to break free from South Carolina linebacker Skai Moore (10) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in Athens, Ga.
photo Georgia head coach Mark Richt looks on from the sidelines during in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Southern on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, in Athens, Ga.

ATHENS, Ga. -- The excitement surrounding Saturday afternoon's Alabama-Georgia football game in Sanford Stadium is undeniable, though Bulldogs players are doing their best to block it out when roaming the campus.

"I walk with my head down with headphones on," sophomore tailback Nick Chubb said Tuesday.

It's not every week that Georgia prepares to host a program that has won three national championships in the past six seasons and has averaged 12 wins a year during that stretch. Alabama has been a gold standard both historically and in the past several seasons under coach Nick Saban, who may be the most recognizable figure in the sport.

There is also the infrequency of this border-state pairing, with Saturday being the first regular-season meeting between the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs since 2008. The next such encounter is scheduled for 2020 in Tuscaloosa.

"It's going to be a fun atmosphere," Georgia sophomore tight end Jeb Blazevich said. "I've been hearing the hype about this for weeks now. I know the 'Dawg Nation' is going to show out huge."

Said Chubb: "You want to think that it's just another game and that you've been playing football your whole life, but this one is definitely different."

Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said during Tuesday's weekly news conference that it's been business as usual in practice, though it has not been business as usual off the field.

Sophomore receiver Isaiah McKenzie was accused of threatening a female student Monday night at a Chili's not far from downtown. Athens-Clarke County police are looking into the incident, and no charges have been filed.

Richt's media gathering occurred before news broke of McKenzie's incident, but McKenzie did go through Tuesday's practice. The Bulldogs have been on a stretch of good behavior, with no known player arrests since last October.

The last time Alabama invaded Sanford Stadium resulted in the worst first-half beating of the 15-year Richt era. The Crimson Tide spoiled Georgia's third appearance in black jerseys, racing to a 31-0 lead after two quarters of the 2008 matchup and coasted to a 41-30 victory.

Crimson Tide quarterback John Parker Wilson completed 13 of 16 passes for 205 yards, and Julio Jones caught five for 94 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown.

"They had a 'blackout' that night or something, and I just remember JP having a really good game," said current Florida coach Jim McElwain, who was Alabama's offensive coordinator in 2008. "We got off to a fast start, and when we were walking out of the press box to go down at halftime, a couple of Georgia fans started throwing some stuff at me.

"I was like, 'Wow, we must have done something right.' It was a lot of fun."

It was not so much fun for Richt, who recalled, "They got after us pretty good. We did come out and play a little better in the second half, but they might have been beating us so bad that they relaxed a little bit."

Richt doesn't mind his players getting excited for Alabama's impending arrival, but he wants them to "be able to function" through a good week of practice. As for Saturday, Richt wants Bulldogs fans to be at their loudest when the Crimson Tide offense is on the field.

"I know they'll try to create as many communication issues for them as possible," Richt said. "It's certainly easier to run an offensive system when you can hear as opposed to when you can't. I know our fans will do their part, and I'm looking forward to seeing them do their thing."

As are Georgia's players.

"People are making this bigger than a game," Blazevich said. "I'm treating it as a normal game, but the fans are going to be crazy. I am excited to see the big sea of red."

Contact David Paschall at or 423-757-6524.