published Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Georgia Bulldogs moving on



Georgia tight end Jay Rome, who scored the first touchdown in the SEC championship game earlier this month, said getting over the loss to Alabama has been eased by the support of Bulldogs fans.
Georgia tight end Jay Rome, who scored the first touchdown in the SEC championship game earlier this month, said getting over the loss to Alabama has been eased by the support of Bulldogs fans.
University of Georgia photo
TICKET STRUGGLES

Georgia has sold roughly 10,000 tickets out of its Capital One Bowl allotment of 12,500 for the New Year's Day matchup against Nebraska, Bulldogs athletic director Greg McGarity said Wednesday.

"We're not there yet, but there are a lot of other teams that are struggling right now trying to reach their bowl commitment," McGarity said. "We feel like we're on track to meet our allocation, which speaks volumes about our fans. The game is during the week and not on a weekend in Orlando, so it will be tough for people to get there."

Nebraska has sold less than 4,000 tickets so far and sold just 8,100 to last year's Capital One Bowl, when they lost to South Carolina 30-13.

ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia sophomore tight end Jay Rome was no different from any other teammate when he woke up Dec. 2, several hours after the Bulldogs dropped a thrilling 32-28 decision to Alabama in the Southeastern Conference championship game.

"I remember getting up and feeling kind of down," Rome recalled Wednesday, "but then I remember getting on my phone and having countless text messages and looking on Twitter and all the fans encouraging us and telling us how well we played. At the time I was thinking, 'Well, we still lost,' but looking back, I really see how the Bulldog Nation was behind us.

"They were really proud of us. We left everything we had out on the field, and our fans recognized that."

Rome, who opened the scoring in the SEC title game with a 19-yard reception from Aaron Murray, said the positive feedback has helped him move on from the heartbreaking setback that eliminated Georgia from the national championship race. Murray admitted he's having a tougher time letting it go.

"I literally replay the entire game pretty much every night before I go to bed," the junior quarterback said. "It's stressful, and it's a game that will probably haunt me the rest of my life."

The Bulldogs began practicing Wednesday for their New Year's Day date against Nebraska at the Capital One Bowl in Orlando. They were hoping to be further down the Sunshine State competing against Notre Dame at the BCS championship in Miami, so the lengthy layoff between the SEC title loss and the ringing in of 2013 may be welcome for Mark Richt's team.

Richt gathered his squad two days after the loss to the Crimson Tide and then went on the road recruiting with his assistant coaches, while the players turned their focus to fall semester exams.

"I think most of them understand that you can't turn the clock back," Richt said. "We fought hard and had a great game plan, and we did what we could that day. We didn't do enough to get it done, but everybody knows that you have to move on.

"Not many people were in a game like that. There were three teams left, and we were one of them."

Bulldogs players were divided as to whether they've gotten over the game, and even athletic director Greg McGarity admits there are plenty throughout his department still recovering. McGarity said that all you can ask of any team is to lay it on the line, and he described the SEC championship as "the most emotional game many of us have ever been a part of."

The SEC title game had 16.2 million viewers, making it the most watched college football game of the season.

"There is no question people saw two juggernauts getting after it in Atlanta," McGarity said. "We have to take it and move on and try to get back in that position next year."

Winning the Capital One Bowl will not atone for the loss to Alabama, but it would send the Bulldogs into the offseason with a 12-2 finish. That would leave Georgia with 22 victories over a two-year span, and only the 2002-03 Bulldogs that tallied 24 wins would have more.

A triumph over the Cornhuskers also would give Georgia its first top-five finish since ending No. 2 in 2007, but some Bulldogs were adamant Wednesday that victory already has been achieved, even in defeat.

"You've got to be positive about it," senior linebacker Christian Robinson said. "If you're going to be negative, it's just going to make you feel worse. My whole view is that we ran out of time, and the positive I'll take away from it is that we made people believe again. It stinks we won't be in Miami, but I think people believe in Georgia again."

Said Murray: "I think we're on top of the mountain right now when it comes to college football. Obviously we've got to finish strong in the bowl game, but I definitely think Georgia is back."

about David Paschall...

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 ...

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