The air is buzzing. The excitement is palpable. Black and red can be found in most storefronts around the Golden Isles with UGA flags whipping by on car windows.

And come Saturday, football season will have officially arrived in the South.

For many, it’s something they’ve looked forward since the last time their teams donned helmets for showdowns on the gridiron eight months ago. Fans are certainly letting their eagerness show.

Bulldogs devotees are ready to build off the excitement of last year’s impressive season, where the team vying for the National Championship against the Alabama Crimson Tide.

While they didn’t walk away with the title, fans are looking forward to seeing what the Dawgs will do this year. And, since the team is starting out ranked No. 3 in the country, they have good reason.

Local merchants are equally pumped and are stocking their stores with all the items fans will need to kick off the season right. Fred Rowe, buyer for Lady Outfitter on St. Simons Island, said the shop has already seen a steady stream of customers looking to stock up.

“Everyone is super excited, especially after last year. We’ve seen a lot of people coming in. I don’t think they are disappointed about last year but are instead excited about this year,” Rowe said.

The store, located at the Shops at Sea Island, has sea of red and black, ranging from tops to tunics to dresses. Some of the hot ticket items so far have been a white and red patterned dress by Umgee, which can be accentuated by a pair of black Shanlou earrings.

“I really like the red and black polka dot one too,” Rowe said, gesturing to the display.

The dress, by Aryeh, has a sister design in all black. Both are punctuated by buttons at the waist. There are also trinkets and tops to add pizzaz to a pair of black pants or jeans.

Over on the men’s side, there are also plenty of fun finds — from dress shirts with the standing bulldog emblem to sweaters and a plethora new Southern Tide t-shirts.

“These are really popular,” Rowe said, pointing to a red Southern Tide tee with a large bulldog on the back. “We have a lot of new things this year.”

New items abound this season. Over at Two Friends in Redfern Village, the store is full of items ranging from women’s clothing to tailgate or party pieces.

Martha Buxton, personal stylist at Two Friends, points to a large table with a Georgia display. There, they have assembled some essentials.

“This pillow is from the Catstudio Collegiate Collection. This is Georgia but we can order pretty much any school,” Buxton said.

“Then we have these cute little bags with the bulldog that you can use for hostess gifts. You can put a bottle of wine in there. Then, we have these ‘SSI Digs the Dogs,’ Styrofoam cups, which are cute.”

The store also has a ton of drinkware, including the ever-popular Swig glasses for wine or beer, which can even be monogrammed. There’s a lot of other table wear on tap too.

“These plates can be reused and have a spot for a solo cup or a wine glass holder,” Buxton said, picking up the pack of six. “And these cute towels for the tailgate.”

Once the set-up is ready, Buxton suggests slipping into some festive, team-themed threads.

“We have a lot of colors of pants and tops actually ... not just Georgia. But we do have a lot of red and black,” she said.

“This Ciao Milano jacket is great for the wind or rain. We have it in red and black. We also have some really great scarves to go with it.”

Now is the time to grab that outfit, tumbler or table scape, kick off is a-comin’. The Dawgs take to the field at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Athens against Austin-Peay. It will be shown on ESPN for those who aren’t heading to the homeland.

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