It may not be Alabama-Notre Dame for college football's national championship, but Georgia and Nebraska will bring plenty of tradition to the Capital One Bowl on New Year's Day.
The No. 5 Bulldogs will head to Orlando with an 11-2 record following Saturday's heartbreaking 32-28 defeat against Alabama in the Southeastern Conference championship, while No. 21 Nebraska is 10-3. The Cornhuskers were slight favorites in Saturday night's Big Ten title game but were blown out by Wisconsin 70-31.
Nebraska played in the Capital One Bowl last season, losing to South Carolina 30-13, while this will be the first appearance for Georgia since downing Michigan State 24-12 after the 2008 season.
"We, of course, wanted to play for the national championship," Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said Sunday night. "It was one of those games either team could have won, but we have a new goal in sight. We are trying to get 12 wins, so that's a big part of what we're going to try to get done."
Georgia has attained 12 victories in a season twice before -- the 1980 national champions went 12-0 and the 2002 SEC champions went 13-1.
The Bulldogs and Cornhuskers rank among the sport's top six programs when it comes to bowl appearances. Alabama (60) and Texas (51) head the list, with Nebraska, Southern Cal and Tennessee next with 49 and Georgia with 48.
Whether these two programs will bring plenty of fans may be another matter for the matchup that will be televised by ABC at 1 p.m.
Nebraska in January played before announced crowd of 61,351 at the Capital One Bowl, which seats roughly 70,000. Georgia lost to Michigan State 33-30 in triple overtime in last season's Outback Bowl, which drew just 49,429 in a stadium that seats roughly 66,000.
Of Georgia's last 18 bowl invitations including this one, eight have been to the Capital One or the Outback in Tampa.
"If we weren't going to be in a BCS bowl game, this was the location we wanted to be," Bulldogs athletic director Greg McGarity said.
ESPN reported late last week that Texas A&M would be the SEC team chosen for Orlando, but Capital One Bowl CEO Steve Hogan said "nothing could be further from the truth. Georgia deserved this trip, and we're fortunate to have a team of BCS quality."
The Bulldogs lost last season's Outback Bowl after falling to LSU in the SEC championship. That marked the first time under Richt that Georgia lost its last two games in a season, but the Bulldogs believe they will bounce back from their loss to the Crimson Tide.
"We're going to respond well, and we're going to improve," junior outside linebacker Jarvis Jones said. "It's not like we lost by 20 points. We lost by four points to maybe the best team in the country with the best offensive line in the country. We're not far behind.
"We've had a great season. We fell short of one of our goals, but we've got to stay focused."
Georgia and Nebraska have met once before, with the Cornhuskers cruising to a 45-6 win in the 1969 Sun Bowl. Richt was born in Omaha and still has relatives in Nebraska who call themselves "Corn Dogs" for supporting both Capital One Bowl participants.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...