ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia football teams under Mark Richt took particular pride in hitting the road and coming home with victories in his early years as coach.
The Bulldogs still have a better winning percentage in true Southeastern Conference road games (.786) than at home (.721) during his 12-plus seasons. But they also have something special going the last couple of years between the hedges as well – where the Bulldogs have quietly put together the second-longest home winning streak in the nation at 14 games.
The Bulldogs haven’t lost in Sanford Stadium since falling to South Carolina 45-42 on Sept. 10, 2011, but that will be put to the test tomorrow against No. 6 LSU.
“You’ve got to be able to defend your turf if you’re going to have any chance of winning the SEC,” Richt said.
Michigan has the longest active home streak of FBS teams in the nation with 17, followed by Georgia’s 14, and South Carolina with 13.
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray certainly is thriving at home. He’s completed 73 percent of his passes in the last five home games with 17 touchdowns, one interception and an average of 329 yards passing per game.
“You’ve got to love playing between the hedges,” Murray said. “Just dealing with crowd noise, adjusting plays, being able to change the snap count, it really is helpful being home. That’s why we always stress to the fans, ‘Get loud.’ It really is a pain (in) the butt dealing with crowd noise. ... I just stress to our fans, the louder you can be, the easier it is for us on defense.”
LSU is playing its first true road game of the season after playing TCU in Dallas and hosting UAB, Kent State and Auburn.
“I think the team that goes on the road and wins generally brings the best team with them,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “They’re guys that have had experience in that environment, understand it and look forward to going in there and doing the things that they came to do. ... They’re going to be focused on a very quality opponent.”
Georgia, considered by many to have one of the best settings in college football, didn’t make the list of 10 of the “greatest home-field advantages” by EA Sports in its “NCAA Football 14” on the video game maker’s website.
Those that did: Michigan, Ohio State, Florida, Florida State, Boise State, Texas A&M, Clemson, Oregon, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.
Student attendance at Georgia has been lagging, but athletic director Greg McGarity said the game against South Carolina drew more than 15,500 students, the most in “four or five years.”
“That was the loudest I’ve ever heard it for sure,” junior receiver Michael Bennett said.
“There’s a different breed of fans in the stadium,” senior receiver Rantavious Wooten said. “When I first got here, the fans were more laid back. (Against South Carolina), I just felt more of their objective in the stands was to disturb the (opposing team’s) offense. That’s totally different than how it was a few years ago.”
Boos were heard when things looked like they were unraveling last week against North Texas, which was tied with Georgia 21-21 in the third quarter before the Bulldogs pulled away for a 45-21 win.
“I don’t hear nothing sometimes,” Georgia linebacker Amarlo Herrera said. “Cheers, boos, all that sounds the same to me.”
Herrera knows what to expect Saturday.
“No doubt,” Herrera said, “that this week it will be rocking.”