Georgia team arrives for Rose Bowl with a goal in mind


The Georgia football charter plane touched down in Los Angeles Tuesday as the sun was setting. Players packed on four buses, which got a police escort to their hotel and home for the next week.

Silently, Jake Fromm, Roquan Smith and others got out of their buses and headed to a side entrance, where they walked up stores that had logos of the Rose Bowl and Georgia. They saw a sign welcoming them to the College Football Playoff, then were asked to “watch your head” as they walked under a low overhang, with a sign featuring a picture of the late Mike “Big Dawg” Woods.

> Watch: Bulldogs flew to California in style

And so the Bulldogs arrived in Los Angeles for the program’s most important week in decades.

“Be where your feet are,” coach Kirby Smart had told his players last week, as a reminder not to be thinking about being in California until they got there. Well, now they’re here.

For the first time since 1960, a Georgia football team landed in Los Angeles for a game. The players flew together on a charter, as they did last year to Memphis but haven’t for most previous bowl games.

“We’re going to travel together,” star tailback Sony Michel said earlier this month. “We’re going to try to make it seem like an away game. The best situation as possible. And just try to make it another away game.”

According to the Atlanta airport’s Twitter account, the Delta plane that took the Bulldogs to the Rose Bowl is the same plane that has carried the past two national champions during the College Football Playoff — Alabama in 2015 and Clemson in 2016.

Before this game, however, lies a week of preparation and intensely so. Last year before the Liberty Bowl Smart talked about enjoying the bowl week activities and how players don’t usually remember whether they won a bowl game but do have fond memories of the good times they had during the bowl week.

This time, suffice to say, is different.

“This isn’t a trip where you go to enjoy the rides,” Smart said.

The practices in Los Angeles will feature intensive prep for Oklahoma, unlike back in Athens. That’s fairly normal and how it was handled at Alabama when Smart was an assistant with the Crimson Tide. The reasoning is coaches have found there’s only so much prep a team can do for one opponent, that six-to-seven practices is about the limit until it gets old for the players. So the bowl practice in Athens resembled a preseason camp atmosphere, back to the basics.

But the game plan largely has been in place before the team flew to L.A. Now it will be installed and practiced.

“It’s gonna be a great atmosphere, and it’s a huge honor to be playing in the Rose Bowl,” senior receiver Javon Wims said last week. “We’re gonna enjoy it.”

While Oklahoma comes in as the higher seed and thus will wear its home jerseys, Georgia arrived here as the slight favorite. The people setting the line a few hours away from here in Las Vegas have the Bulldogs favored by a couple of points, a reaction to the early money going towards them.

Never miss a minute of the Georgia Bulldogs. Subscribe to myAJC


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in UGA / DawgNation

Looking at how Georgia’s top recruits will impact the program
Looking at how Georgia’s top recruits will impact the program

The Bulldogs don’t plan to go away anytime soon. After years of underachieving and riding the treadmill, Georgia broke through in 2017, eventually falling just short of a national championship because of Alabama freshman heroics. But Kirby Smart’s crew will have its own youthful injection next season when it welcomes the country’s...
Georgia Bulldogs’ 2018 schedule
Georgia Bulldogs’ 2018 schedule

The Georgia Bulldogs are the defending SEC Champions entering the 2018 college football season. Georgia will open the season Sept. 1 against Austin Peay, the schools’ first meeting, and also will face Massachusetts on Nov. 17 as part of a football and basketball agreement.  The Bulldogs’ four true road games will be SEC contests at...
Georgia’s Roquan Smith declares for NFL Draft
Georgia’s Roquan Smith declares for NFL Draft

After the season he had, it’s not a surprise. Georgia junior linebacker Roquan Smith will forgo his senior season and declare for the 2018 NFL Draft. “The decision to leave is not easy but I know it is the right one,” Smith said in a statement. “Georgia will always be my school and my home and I sincerely wish all the best to...
5 points/counterpoints for Georgia being 2018 championship favorites
5 points/counterpoints for Georgia being 2018 championship favorites

1. Favorable schedule: If you thought Georgia’s 2017 schedule was easy, take a look at 2018. The Bulldogs open against Austin Peay on Sept. 1, beginning what many will consider a soft home slate: Middle Tennessee, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Auburn, UMass, Georgia Tech. They travel to South Carolina, Missouri, LSU, Kentucky and Jacksonville for the...
Georgia’s Jake Fromm is early favorite to win 2018 Heisman Trophy
Georgia’s Jake Fromm is early favorite to win 2018 Heisman Trophy

Vegas oddsmakers like what they saw from Georgia’s freshman quarterback Jake Fromm. The Bulldogs’ signal caller opens with the best odds to win the 2018 Heisman Trophy. Fromm finished his first year with 2,615 passing yards and 24 touchdowns. Also among the leading contenders is Fromm teammate D’Andre Swift. The freshman rushed for...
More Stories