Georgia football teams under Mark Richt took particular pride in hitting the road and coming home with victories in his early years as head coach.
The Bulldogs still have a better winning percentage in true Southeastern Conference road games (.786) than at home (.721) during his 12-plus seasons. But they have something going the last couple of years between the hedges.
The Bulldogs quietly have the second-longest home winning streak in the nation at 14.
The Bulldogs haven’t lost in Sanford Stadium since falling to South Carolina 45-42 on Sept. 10, 2011, but that will be put to the test Saturday against No. 6 LSU.
“You’ve got to be able to defend your turf if you’re going to have any chance of winning the SEC,” Richt said.
Michigan has the longest active home winning streak of FBS teams with 17, followed by Georgia’s 14, South Carolina with 13 and Ohio State and Stanford with 11 apiece.
The Bulldogs haven’t exactly had a murderer’s row lineup of opponents during this stretch.
In order, the opponents were Coastal Carolina, Mississippi State, New Mexico State, Auburn, Kentucky, Buffalo, Florida Atlantic, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech, South Carolina and North Texas.
Only Auburn at No. 24 in 2011 and South Carolina at No. 6 this season were ranked.
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray certainly is thriving at home lately. He’s completed 73 percent of his passes in the last five home games with 17 touchdowns and one interception and an average of 329 yards passing per game.
“You’ve got to love playing between the hedges,” Murray said. “Just dealing with crowd noise, adjusting plays, being able to change the snap count, it really is helpful being home. That’s why we always stress to the fans, ‘Get loud.’ It really is a pain the butt dealing with crowd noise. I mean, if you look at pro games, look at Seattle. They’re known for their crowd noise. You watch any team that plays at Seattle. They can’t do anything. … I just stress to our fans, the louder you can be, the easier it is for us on defense.”
LSU is playing its first true road game after opening the season against TCU in Dallas at Cowboys Stadium and being home for games against UAB, Kent State and Auburn.
“I think the team that goes on the road and wins generally brings the best team with them,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “They’re guys that have had experience in that environment, understand it and look forward to going in there and doing the things that they came to do. … Not going to be distracted by noise or band or a different stadium. They’re going to be focused on a very quality opponent.”
Georgia is considered by many to have one of the best settings in college football, but didn’t make the list of the top 10 greatest home-field advantages by EA Sports in “NCAA Football 14,” listed on the video game maker’s website.
Those that did: Michigan, Ohio State, Florida, Florida State, Boise State, Texas A&M, Clemson, Oregon, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.
Student attendance at Georgia has been lagging like at other schools, but athletic director Greg McGarity said the game against South Carolina drew more than 15,500 students, the most in “four or five years.”
“That was the loudest I’ve ever heard it for sure,” junior receiver Michael Bennett said.
“There’s a different breed of fans in the stadium,” senior receiver Rantavious Wooten said. “When I first got here, the fans were more laid back. [Against South Carolina], I just felt more of their objective in the stands was to disturb the [opposing team’s] offense. That’s totally different than how it was a few years ago.”
Boos were heard when things looked like they were unraveling last week against North Texas, which was tied with Georgia 21-21 in the third quarter before the Bulldogs pulled away for a 45-21 win.
“I don’t hear nothing sometimes,” Georgia linebacker Amarlo Herrera said. “Cheers, boos, all that sounds the same to me.”
Herrera knows what to expect Saturday.
“No doubt,” Herrera said, “that this week it will be rocking.”