LOS ANGELES — The University of Georgia Bulldogs marched into one of the airplane hanger-like rooms at the Los Angeles Convention Center like a team on a mission. Moments after the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs, their opponent for a national championship Monday night at SoFi Stadium, were done with their media day obligations, it was time for the Southeastern Conference (SEC) champions to take the mic and speak their peace.
Having played in big game after big game in the SEC, The Atlanta Voice was there to ask the Georgia (14-0 overall) student-athletes and coaches made available to the media about what it means to be representing their conference on the biggest stage in college football and whether or not playing in the SEC week after week takes some of the pressure off for Monday’s game. After all nearly 70,000 fans were in attendance for both the SEC Championship game and the Peach Bowl in Atlanta.
“If you look at all the teams in the SEC they are like big name schools, think about Florida, Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee, those schools recruit just as well as Georgia,” said senior receiver Kearis Jackson (20 receptions, 300 yards, team-high 17 kick returns for 364 yards). “When you’re playing on Saturdays it’s like a playoff or championship-type atmosphere every time. So when we get there we’re already prepared. We know what it’s going to feel like, we know it’s going to be loud, it’s going to be hostile, but we have to be able to maintain our focus.”
Bulldogs senior safety Chris Smith (58 total tackles, three interceptions) agreed that the SEC is “the toughest conference in the nation.” He added, “Georgia plays against great players week in and week out, but that’s not to take anything away from the other conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, all those conferences have great teams. SEC is definitely a tough conference to play in and that’s what of the main reasons why I chose to play here.”
Against non-conference opponents this season the Bulldogs were dominant with the exception of wining a one-point game against Ohio State in the Peach Bowl last week. Georgia defeated Oregon 49-3, Samford 33-0, Kent State 39-22 and rival Georgia Tech 37-14.
“Representing the best conference in college football right now means everything,” Senior inside linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson (66 total tackles, team-high four sacks) said of representing the SEC at the national championship. “Every team in the SEC is big, physical, good and talented. In the SEC you don’t run into a team you don’t have to prepare for.”
‘A dream come true’
One of the stars of the Peach Bowl victory over Ohio State, running back Kenny Mcintosh (team-high 779 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns, 42 receptions and two receiving touchdowns) called playing in the national championship game for a consecutive season, “a dream come true.” Georgia and TCU (13-2 overall) are scheduled to kickoff at 4:30 p.m. Monday.