Athens Is Ready For 'Madness', As Tennessee-Georgia Fans Invade Town For Historic Matchup

ATHENS, GA- Walking around Georgia's campus on Friday morning, the smell was in the air, hitting your nose almost as loud as the guys trying to sell tickets. What was once a game to look forward to is now a can't-miss showdown between the Bulldogs and Tennessee.

The music is blaring out of the venues on Clayton street, while some fans wearing orange have made the early trip from across the country. Whether it's students or fans, I hear a few people barking as a group of Tennessee fans make their way for a cup of coffee. It doesn't take me very long to soak in the feeling of what's to come.

For one group of friends from West Tennessee who stopped by Sanford Stadium to get their picture taken, excitement was already building. One of the guys in the group exclaims 'This is gonna be awesome, we're here boys'. This is the feeling of most folks I spoke with that arrived a bit early. It's not just Georgia vs. Tennessee anymore, it's #1 vs. #3.


Tennessee Fan: 'Definitely Not Getting Rid Of These Tickets'

We all had a good feeling for what we'd get out of Georgia this season, watching the Bulldogs destroy Oregon in the season opener solidified my thoughts. But what we've seen out of Tennessee has shocked the college football world. Even 'Cody' and his friends didn't mince words when discussing the trip they had already planned in the Spring.

"Not in a million years did I think the $100 tickets we purchased or the $200 dollar hotel rooms would have us attending a top-3 game. We were already coming to Athens to cheer on the Vols, but we sure as hell didn't expect it to be for the SEC East, or even the playoffs. We just pick one away game to attend every year, this time it happened to be in Athens."

When I asked him what he thought about the current price of one ticket to this game, he knew what was coming next.

"Nope, I am definitely not getting rid of these tickets. Trust me, I know how much they're going for right now. Heck, it could probably buy us season tickets next year in Knoxville, just to get rid of three of em. But this is a once-in-a-lifetime type game, for now."

Saturday Preparations Are Underway, Including Ticket Sales

The last time Georgia hosted a game of this national magnitude would've been the Notre Dame game in 2019, in front of a raucous crowd. The Irish ended up losing that game 23-17. I asked one ticket broker on the street, who wanted to go by the name 'Donnie', what type of market it would look like on Saturday. His answer surprised me.

"Well, I actually work for a bigger company. I won't tell you who it is, but they'll most likely send twenty more guys to Athens on Saturday morning. This type of game and the prices I've already mentioned, this will be the hottest ticket I've ever been a part of. Usually they will send four or five guys to help out either buying or selling on the street, but I was told I'd have a lot of help."

This is how ticket companies can sell inventory that is also online. Having someone in-person to do it can make it easier for folks. I get the trepidation of giving someone your Venmo or PayPal account information, but this isn't the only trick to look out for. Counterfeit tickets are something fans should keep an eye on, even with Georgia going all-digital.

There will be numerous people trying to sell you paper tickets, even though the Bulldogs football program switched over to the digital side a few years ago. Take the words of 'Donnie' to heart.

"Make sure folks know that we don't dabble in paper tickets, so you won't see me trying to pull that off. Just tell folks to be careful and not to fall for the trick. At least go see a vendor if you have any suspicions. It's not rude to ask us to walk to your gate, making sure they work and you get in."

Prepare For Madness, Either Way

Whether you're a Tennessee or Georgia fan, this rivalry runs deep. The hatred for each fan-base is proven by each bark or 'Go Vols' you hear. The southern hospitality is thrown out the window once you set foot in the Athens city limits. So, don't complain, just embrace it. Nobody in their right mind, including me, would've thought we'd be over 24 hours away from such a massive game.

As one Sanford Stadium worker was grabbing a cable out of his truck, I asked him what he was expecting tomorrow, inside and outside the stadium.

"It's going to be absolutely bonkers. Hope everyone gets their money's worth. If not, the alcohol will help."

Written by
Trey Wallace is the host of The Trey Wallace Podcast that focuses on a mixture of sports, culture, entertainment along with his perspective on everything from College Football to the College World Series. Wallace has been covering college sports for 15 years, starting off while attending the University of South Alabama. He’s broken some of the biggest college stories including the Florida football "Credit Card Scandal" along with the firing of Jim McElwin and Kevin Sumlin. Wallace also broke one of the biggest stories in college football in 2020 around the NCAA investigation into recruiting violations against Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt. Wallace also appears on radio across seven different states breaking down that latest news in college sports.