It would be natural if Arizona State’s Sun Devils were a bit intimidated by the prospect of playing Between the Hedges in front of partisan crowd of 93,000, most of whom will be rooting for UGA.
After all, last week ASU played at home before a crowd of less than 44,000. And only seven current members of the ASU team, all seniors, have ever played in a nonconference road game. The rest of the team has never played anywhere other than a PAC 10 stadium. And so far this season they’ve only played two weak opponents at home in Tempe.
Sun Devils coach Dennis Erickson said in USA Today that he’s told his players to “enjoy the moment. This is a tremendous opportunity for these guys. You can’t worry about atmosphere. I’m not going to tell them it’s not noisy. It’s going to be noisier than heck. … It’s college football at its best.”
But at least one Sun Devil doesn’t sound intimidated. In the Arizona Republic, junior cornerback Omar Bolden, who in last week’s ASU win over Louisiana-Monroe returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown and intercepted a pass at the 1-yard line, said of playing the Bulldogs in Athens: “It’s the SEC, it’s 90,000 fans, but if you really look at it, you go to Oregon, it’s 58,000, but they’re right on your necks. It’s really the same thing.”
The natural Bulldog fan’s response would be that Bolden is in for a rude awakening. A sold-out Sanford Stadium no more intimidating than playing before 54,000 (the actual capacity) at Autzen Stadium in Eugene? Bolden should ask someone at Auburn what it sounds like when a Georgia crowd is cranked up.
But then again, will a Sanford Stadium crowd get cranked up for Arizona State? It’s not an SEC game. The Dogs beat the Sun Devils easily last season. Most Georgia fans probably aren’t nearly as excited about this game as they will be about LSU a week later.
What do you think? Will the UGA crowd get loud enough to make Bolden rethink his comparison with the home of the Ducks? Or will the noise at Sanford not be anywhere near as much a factor as the humidity?