ATLANTA (WTOC) - The Georgia Bulldogs are back in the SEC Championship Game for the first time since 2012, and they're facing a team they played less than a month ago.
WTOC is at Atlanta's Mercedes Benz Stadium with the Dawgs.
Georgia lost to Auburn during the regular season, so it's safe to assume they're looking for revenge this weekend. At least, fans hope they are. In fact, some people are even referring to this game as 'Revenge in the Benz.' It's also been popular this week to say how difficult it is to beat a team twice in one season. The problem with that is - there have been six such rematches in the SEC Championship Game, and five times the team that won the first game also won the second - so revenge wasn't a factor there.
The coaches met with the media and Kirby Smart Friday afternoon. Smart was asked about the revenge factor - and he's certainly not counting on one Saturday.
"Everybody wants to ask that question. It really benefits no one. We know each other so well, we play each other every year," Coach Smart said.
Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn was asked if his team was somehow at a disadvantage because it won the first game. His answer was pretty abrupt. He said, 'this is the SEC Championship game. That is a much greater motivation than an amount of revenge.'
The game might not be until Saturday, but fans are already flocking to Atlanta. Some might try to contain their excitement on Friday to save for game time, but fans on both sides are glad to see their team in this game and oh so close to the national playoff scene. Whether they're new fans or lifelong ones, it's been a great year.
"It's been a great season, better than I expected. I figured next year would be the one. It's been a roller coaster, but this might be one of Georgia's greatest teams of all time," said Dennis and Kimberly DeLoach, Glennville.
"This has been an opportunity to be in the national playoff picture. Hopefully, we'll be back here in January for the championship game," said William Greene, Maryland. "I flew down from Maryland because this is a once in a lifetime chance for me. My son was supposed to come down, but he couldn't."
The Auburn faithful have just as much pride, especially after beating Bama to get to this point.
"There's excitement all over the state, except for the Bama fans. They're still crying," said Auburn fan, Bryan Young.
It's interesting to talk to some fans who say they go to the SEC Championship every year, whether their team is in it or not, just because they want to see a great game - and they're expecting one this year.
"I can remember an experience at Alabama, going to Jerry Jones' Stadium. It was one of the only times we went to the stadium beforehand, to get the big TV screen 'wow factor' out of the way," Coach Smart said. "I think that's important for us to get that out of the way today so we can get down to business tomorrow."
Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. Security will be cracking down on much more than counterfeit tickets. Fans say they expect more scrutiny in the lines and rules, but they'll deal with that to feel safe before, during, and after the game.
Lines into the stadium could take longer as security now checks fans more than generations past. With terror groups targeting large events, a game of this size could see some sort of attempt. Fans say they'll endure a few extra hoops to jump through to keep the game memorable for the outcome and not some tragedy.
"It's worth it to come see this new stadium, and with the Dawgs here, I always try to follow them to the SEC Championship no matter what," said Vernie Lewis, Jesup.
This marks the largest event at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.