By Sarah Bahr | @smbahr14
Sports Capital Journalism Program
LOS ANGELES — What’s the first item on a 242-pound man’s to-do list when he’s dropped in the middle of an 8-year-old girl’s princess-packed paradise?
Georgia linebacker Lorenzo Carter had Mickey on his mind.
“The first thing I had to do was get my ears,” Carter said of the first item on his to-do list during Georgia’s visit to Disneyland on Wednesday.
The second? Pose with a Disney princess.
From Carter’s selfie with Snow White to tight ends Jeb Blazevich and Jackson Harris’s soaking-wet Grizzly River Run ride, Georgia’s Disney detour the week before playing in the Rose Bowl presented by Northwestern Mutual was, in Blazevich’s words, “a blast.”
“It was just so cool,” Blazevich said Thursday. “I was so giddy, I felt like a little kid again.”
The Bulldogs have been living it up in southern California this week, from racing to see who can eat the most prime rib (the Bulldogs bested the Sooners, according to the Lawry’s head chef) to soaking in the view of the dazzling downtown L.A. skyline from their 70th-floor hotel rooms at the Intercontinental Los Angeles Downtown.
“L.A. is awesome,” Blazevich said. “[The Rose Bowl presented by Northwestern Mutual] is doing this first class. Everything we do, it seems to be the best. We’re living it up.”
But don’t mistake Georgia’s fun-loving for apathy.
“If you need motivation to play your best in the Rose Bowl, you’ve got bigger problems,” Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith said.
“I mean, that’s been our plan and goal ever since I walked in the doors,” Blazevich added. “Nobody goes into the season trying to do anything less than the National Championship, and now we’re knocking on the door.”
Georgia running back Sony Michel said he knew this year’s squad was special starting in training camp.
“It started off with the coaches,” he said. “They set the standard high. When I saw the younger guys, guys like Jake, buying in and already trying to take over that leadership role, I knew this was a special team.”
The Bulldogs have made it clear throughout a week of California-cruisin’ camaraderie that their brotherhood bonds are second-to-none.
Meanwhile, the Sooners have talked revenge — and redemption.
“They called us pretenders at the beginning of the year, and we just ran with it,” Oklahoma linebacker Emmanuel Beal said. “That’s for us not to forget where we come from or what people said about us.”
Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield carries a “Pretenders” sign everywhere he goes–a reference to ESPN College Game Day reporter Lee Corso’s jab at Oklahoma before the start of the season — and keeps a wall of slights near his locker in an otherwise pristine Sooners locker room.
But Georgia is hungry, too.
“We’re sick of hearing about the glory days in the ‘80s with the Dawgs,” Blazevich said Thursday. “We’re ready to make our own mark, try to leave our own legacy.”
Anaheim adventures aside, the next 24 hours for both teams will be about refocusing, putting aside the noise and attention, and settling back into the game-day routine.
“We get back into a much more normal routine of a game week, at least for the next 24 hours,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “There’s been an event or some kind of activity [every day], where now the activity is the game.”
“We just try to keep the main thing the main thing,” he said.