The trip to the Rose Bowl was epic as our team and fans rallied for one fantastic win, now our destiny comes down to four quarters in Atlanta.
I say “it’s great to be a Georgia Bulldog” seems like a fitting start to this very special issue of Bulldawg Illustrated. That is right folks, our men in red and black have stamped their ticket to play for the National Championship of all college football this Monday night in Atlanta.
Pinch me this is really happening.
I think by now everyone in the Bulldog Nation can attest that “The Granddaddy of Them All,” the Rose Bowl game, certainly delivered on all fronts. From hanging out at the Tournament of Roses parade on Colorado Street in Pasadena to walking the Hollywood Walk of Fame to having your favorite beverage at a posh hotel in Beverly Hills, there was no shortage of fun. And as you would expect, the Bulldog Nation, as it always does, showed the folks of southern California what being a Georgia fan is all about.
And then there was the football game.
Holy moly, did our team come through in the greatest comeback in Rose Bowl history with a victory that will forever be enshrined in Georgia football history.
Personally, what I liked most about our team’s awesome fantastic finish was that I can say with a straight face that I never panicked when Oklahoma was having its way in the first half of the 104th playing of the Rose Bowl game. While standing in the long concession lines at halftime, I constantly told fellow Bulldog fans that our defense would rise to the occasion once it figured out the lights out Oklahoma offense.
While Kirby Smart was quick to lament the yards given up by his team in the post-game press conference, his statement also included high praise for his guys’ ability to never give up on each other. And clearly, they did not, as our Dawgs came out in the third quarter with their own offensive firepower and erased the vast Oklahoma lead.
The rest is history … two overtimes later … Georgia 54 Oklahoma 48.
However, as we must always do here at Bulldawg Illustrated, it is our duty as fans and media members to help our team and its incredible fans turn the page to the next duty that lies nearest, which is battling the Alabama Crimson Tide for all the marbles in Mercedes Stadium.
By now, everyone knows the dynasty that Nick Saban has put together at Alabama. While some folks like to make him out as the villain, I couldn’t disagree more. From a pure football standpoint, what Coach Saban demands from his players is exactly what you want. Combining speed and power with discipline is why the Tide has garnered so much hardware over the last decade.
When the Georgia administration made the decision to bring Kirby Smart (from Alabama) back home to Athens two years ago, I knew he and his staff were going to bring great things to our proud program. It is for this reason that I’ve included this photo of President Jere Morehead after the Rose Bowl game victory. To me, the picture is worth a thousand words because it shows what can happen when a university administration totally gets behind making its football program the very best it can be.
And to Kirby’s credit, from his first day on the job at Georgia, he spoke about the importance of everyone being on the same page. Yes, some things needed to change to achieve excellence, but there was never any finger-pointing. Instead, it was all about unity from everyone who loves the University of Georgia.
Now we are one game away from reaching that moment that everyone in the Bulldog Nation has so craved since Jan. 1, 1981. Without a doubt, beating Alabama is going to be a beast, but we can do it Bulldogs. This 2017 team is such a special group, which is why we went with the Star Wars theme, “This is Our Destiny” for our cover. And certainly, Kirby is Georgia’s young Luke Skywalker trying to topple Nick Saban’s empire at Alabama.
But as Greg Poole astutely points out in his ‘From the Field’ piece on page 43, destiny must be earned. Our team has diligently fought for the right to play for the Natty. Now, they must keep chopping one more time. It’s going to be a battle sports fans. And as I always preach, we as fans must do our part. We did it in Pasadena and our Dawgs game through.
Now I must bid farewell, but everyone at Bulldawg Illustrated has worked tirelessly to get this National Championship issue to you. Enjoy our coverage and photos from the Pasadena and the many nuggets about Monday’s game that is sure to get you ready.
It is our destiny Bulldog Nation, now let’s go win a title. Go Dawgs!!!