On Monday, the University of Georgia Bulldogs will take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in Atlanta for the 2018 College Football Championship.
For UGA fans, the game is the culmination of a nearly three decade wait for a national championship.
For UGA students, who were on winter break when the Dawgs defeated Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl, the game is a chance to celebrate UGA history with their peers for the first time, and they are already making their plans.
“A lot of people were home for break when we won the Rose Bowl,” said Evan House, a third-year history major at UGA. “They’re back now, and I think the vibe is going to be a lot different. There’s already a lot more hype.”
House added that he plans to watch the game in the downtown Athens with his friends and expects most of his peers to do the same.
“I think it’s going to get pretty crowded,” he said.
Other students plan on taking advantage of the UGA watch party at Stegeman Coliseum on Monday, including third-year student Erin Caplan.
“A lot of us didn’t get tickets to the National Championship,” she said. “I think it will be awesome for us all to watch the game together at Stegeman. It’s going to be a really cool environment with a lot of energy.”
At least 500 UGA students will be watching the game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium as the recipients of a limited number of student tickets.
Emily Middleton is one of those lucky 500.
“I cried when I opened the email saying I got a ticket,” Middleton said. “It’s my senior year, so this is more than I could have dreamed for.”
Middleton added that she also attended the Rose Bowl with her family, but that the national championship will be different.
“It was great experiencing the Rose Bowl with my family,” she said. “But I don’t think it will compare to what the student section will be like in Atlanta.”
Another group of students that will be cheering on the Dawgs from their own section is the Red Coat Marching Band.
“It took a couple of days to sink in that we were actually playing in this game,” said Jessie Rankin, one of four drum majors for the band and a lifelong Dawgs fan. “I think because of the fact that we have been waiting for a national championship for a long time and that we get to play for one in our back yard, there are going to be a lot of passionate fans there, including me.”