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Fromm Won’t Be Rattled By Death Valley

By Matt Smith
SouthernPigskin.com
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For Fromm, Saturday’s trip to Baton Rouge will be just another game.

When No. 2 Georgia visits No. 13 LSU on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS), Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm will have to navigate one of the most hostile atmospheres in college football in Tiger Stadium.

With its high-sloped stands, loud and mostly inebriated crowd, and always talented home team, Tiger Stadium has helped LSU conquer many great quarterbacks in its day – Tim Tebow, Greg McElroy, and Johnny Manziel, to name a few in recent years.

For Fromm, Saturday’s trip to Baton Rouge will be just another game.

“I heard it’s incredible,” Fromm said of the atmosphere in Tiger Stadium. “I’m really excited to play in there.”

Does that sound like a quarterback who will be intimidated?

To understand the calmness of Georgia’s sophomore quarterback, it helps to consider how Fromm first began his role as Georgia’s starting quarterback some 20 games ago. Jacob Eason was injured in the ‘Dawgs season-opening win against Appalachian State in 2017, and Fromm finished a blowout victory. His first start came the next week in perhaps the most storied venue in the sport – Notre Dame Stadium.

Sure, a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage for Georgia fans made the road game feel more like a bowl game, but the stakes were high, the lights were bright, and Fromm calmly led a fourth-quarter rally in a narrow 20-19 victory over Notre Dame.

Three weeks later, Fromm was back on the road, walking into a crowd of 100,000-plus in Neyland Stadium at Tennessee. Forty-one Bulldogs points and zero Volunteers points later, Georgia was 5-0, ranked in the top five for the first time since 2013, and Tennessee fans had given up on head coach Butch Jones.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Fromm as true freshman, as Georgia climbed to No. 1 before having to face rival Auburn in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Fromm helped silence the Tigers backers with an opening-drive touchdown, but it was all Auburn from then, as Fromm suffered defeat for the first time as a college quarterback.

That loss was just a blip, however, as Fromm would respond to guide Georgia to consecutive wins over the No. 2 team in the country. First was a rematch with Auburn in the SEC Championship Game, as the ‘Dawgs rolled to a 28-7 victory after, ironically, this time it was the Tigers who scored on their opening drive. In the Rose Bowl, Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield met his match, as Fromm and Georgia won a double-overtime classic over Oklahoma, 54-48.

To start Fromm’s sophomore year, the Bulldogs were ranked No. 3 in the nation after finishing as the national runner-up last season. After an expectedly easy win over Austin Peay, Georgia traveled to South Carolina in Week 2 for an early-season SEC East showdown. Williams-Brice Stadium had been a house of horrors for Georgia this decade, but even with Sandstorm blasting and white towels waving, Fromm and the Bulldogs sucked the life out of the stadium in a never-in-doubt 41-17 victory.

Notre Dame Stadium. Neyland Stadium. Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Rose Bowl. Williams-Brice Stadium. Fromm has seen them all, and won in four of the five venues. Is Tiger Stadium really going to rattle him? I think not.

Similar to the trip to Notre Dame, Georgia fans will also travel well to Baton Rouge. The ‘Dawgs haven’t played there since 2008, and won’t again until 2030. If they don’t cross this off the bucket list this weekend, they may never get the chance to. A small sea of red in the upper corners of Tiger Stadium amidst all the purple and yellow should be a pleasant sight for Fromm and his teammates.

For that group to leave Baton Rouge as a rare visiting victor, Fromm will have to again play at the high level that they’ve grown accustomed to seeing from their quarterback in big games.

The LSU defense may be capable of preventing Fromm from reaching that level, but the heat of the moment certainly isn’t going to.

Matt Smith - Matt is a 2007 graduate of Notre Dame and has spent most of his life pondering why most people in the Mid-Atlantic actually think there are more important things than college football. He has blogged for College Football News, covering both national news as well as Notre Dame and the service academies. He credits Steve Spurrier and Danny Wuerffel for his love of college football and tailgating at Florida, Tennessee, and Auburn for his love of sundresses. Matt covers the ACC as well as the national scene.