True colors

ATHENS, Ga. --- College football fans nationwide turned their eyes toward the University of Georgia on Saturday night for a primetime showdown between the No. 3 Bulldogs and the No. 8 Alabama Crimson Tide.

Augusta was well-represented among the capacity crowd at Sanford Stadium. Glenn and Jennifer Howell from Thomson tailgated with a group of eight to 10 Bulldog fans from Augusta.

It wasn't their first trip to a game in Athens, but Mr. Howell said it was certainly unique.

"The atmosphere here is crazy. It's one of the most exciting I've ever been a part of," he said. "I've been to probably 10 to 15 games here, and I was at the SEC Championship in 2002. This rivals that."

The Howells joined a vast majority of Bulldog fans who participated in the "blackout" called for by Georgia head coach Mark Richt for only the third time in school history.

Specially designed blackout T-shirts were hot-ticket items in the school's bookstore next to Sanford Stadium before the game, and it translated into a sea of black in the stands at kickoff.

The Bulldogs wore their black jerseys for only the second regular season game in school history. Their first "blackout" came last season and produced a 45-20 win over No. 18 Auburn.

The anticipation of the "blackout" game and its national title significance increased after No. 1 Southern California's loss Thursday and Florida's defeat at the hands of Ole Miss on Saturday afternoon.

Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or billy.byler@augustachronicle.com.

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