CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It’s always interesting to find out how far some fans will come to see their Georgia Bulldogs play. They’d be hard pressed to have traveled farther than Chris Allen.

Allen, a 1991 UGA alumnus, lives in Los Angeles.

“Flew from L.A. to Atlanta, and we drove up today,” said Allen, traveling with fellow UGA alum Gene Williams of Atlanta. “Anytime you can see the Dogs play in a nationally televised big game like this, I’m there, every time.”

He’s not kidding. The chief financial officer of Keck Medical Center of USC, Allen picks at least one game Georgia every year to attend in person. He’s hoping to go to two this year: the one here Saturday between the No. 5 Bulldogs and No. 3 Clemson and the SEC Championship game in December at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

ExploreGeorgia-Clemson: TV, online, radio information

Allen always goes with Williams, his buddy since college. They were roommates in UGA’s Myers Hall their freshman year in 1988.

They couldn’t have been much more energized back then than they were Friday.

“Driving over, there were flags everywhere,” Williams said. “From (U.S.) 441 to the South Carolina line it was mostly Georgia flags. Once we got to Greenville and Spartanburg, you started to see an influx of Clemson. It looks like there’s going to be a lot of folks here.”

caption arrowCaption
Georgia alumnus Chris Allen, who traveled from L.A., has his fingers crossed for his team outside Bank of America Stadium for the top-5 matchup with No. 3 Clemson and No. 5 Georgia set to face off in the Duke’s Mayo Classic on Friday, Sept 3, 2021, in Charlotte. it will be just the fourth time since 2000 a pair of top-5 teams have met in a season opener in college football. It also will be the highest-ranked meeting ever between the Bulldogs and Tigers, who have played 64 times since their first game in 1897. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Georgia alumnus Chris Allen, who traveled from L.A., has his fingers crossed for his team outside Bank of America Stadium for the top-5 matchup with No. 3 Clemson and No. 5 Georgia set to face off in the Duke’s Mayo Classic on Friday, Sept 3, 2021, in Charlotte. it will be just the fourth time since 2000 a pair of top-5 teams have met in a season opener in college football. It also will be the highest-ranked meeting ever between the Bulldogs and Tigers, who have played 64 times since their first game in 1897.   “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

caption arrowCaption
Georgia alumnus Chris Allen, who traveled from L.A., has his fingers crossed for his team outside Bank of America Stadium for the top-5 matchup with No. 3 Clemson and No. 5 Georgia set to face off in the Duke’s Mayo Classic on Friday, Sept 3, 2021, in Charlotte. it will be just the fourth time since 2000 a pair of top-5 teams have met in a season opener in college football. It also will be the highest-ranked meeting ever between the Bulldogs and Tigers, who have played 64 times since their first game in 1897. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

It was hard to gauge which fan base was better represented. Both schools sold out of their 27,000-ticket allotment months ago, and every seat in the 75,000-seat facility has been claimed. But Friday at least, it appeared the red and black had the orange and purple out-numbered.

Georgia fans generally had a little farther to come. UGA is 198 miles away and Clemson is 137. But both schools have huge alumni bases in Atlanta and Charlotte.

According to Vivid Seats’ fan forecast, Georgia fans bought 61 percent of the secondary-market tickets. The Grand Bohemian Hotel and Marriott City Center in downtown Charlotte were teeming with Bulldogs fans. A Hooters restaurant located in between was almost all red and black.

That had a lot to do with sports-talk station The Fan doing an all-afternoon remote broadcast from there. Brian Hoyt, one of the producers and an occasional on-air host, said UGA fans already had drunk the restaurant out of four brands of beer by 5 p.m.

The actual Bulldogs were staying about a half-mile away on the other side of the stadium.

In between, on the corner of South Mint Street and West Stonewall, the streets were blocked off and a stage was erected for “Fan Fest.” A rock and roll band began to play at 5 p.m.

That’s where Allen and Williams were, lured by the loud music after inspecting the ESPN “College Game Day” set at Romare Bearden Park a block away.

“It looks like it’s going to be a big party,” Allen said. “It looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m very excited to be here.”

But while the pregame partying was fun, the main act at 7:30 p.m. Saturday was what was foremost on everybody’s mind.

“I expect it to be a really, really good game,” Allen said. “I’m hoping, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed, the Dogs walk away with a win. I believe they will.”

Neither of them believed it was a must-win for Georgia coach Kirby Smart.

“No, he’s a damn good coach,” Allen said.

Added Williams: “We were talking about that at lunch. He has elevated the program to where we’re in the conversation every year. There’s so many programs that have absolutely zero shot. But we’re always in the conversation, and if you keep knocking at the door, sooner or later it’s going to be opened.”

There will be a lot of knocking going on in Charlotte the next 24 hours or so.

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