published Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Georgia Bulldogs expect 'fun' bowl even against familiar foe

Georgia guard Chris Burnette (68) and center David Andrews (61) block against Nebraska in last January's Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla. The same programs are meeting this year in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville.
Georgia guard Chris Burnette (68) and center David Andrews (61) block against Nebraska in last January's Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla. The same programs are meeting this year in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

TOP BOWLERS

College football teams with the most bowl appearances (including this year's invitations):

• 1. Alabama: 61

• 2. Texas: 52

• 3. Nebraska: 50

• Southern Cal: 50

• 5. Georgia: 49

• Tennessee: 49

ATHENS, Ga. — It's been nearly 50 years since Georgia played Michigan or Miami on the football field, and the Bulldogs never have faced Iowa or Minnesota.

None of that is changing.

After one of its most unique regular seasons in school history, Georgia will close with a familiar scenario. The Bulldogs are facing Nebraska at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville on New Year's Day. That's the same foe they defeated 45-31 last January at the Capital One Bowl in Orlando.

"I think we're going to get up for it because it's another opportunity to represent the Georgia Bulldogs," senior guard Chris Burnette said Monday. "It's always fun to play the game, regardless of who we're playing. We play the same teams in the SEC every year.

"You do like to play some teams that are out of the ordinary and you don't normally get to see, but at the same time, it's still going to be a reward."

The 23rd-ranked Bulldogs recovered from a rash of injuries to close with four victories in their final five games for an 8-4 record. Their only loss down the stretch was at Auburn, which needed a 73-yard pass on fourth-and-18 with 25 seconds remaining to negate an impressive Georgia rally from a 20-point deficit.

Nebraska also finished 8-4 but lost three of its last six games, including a 38-17 drubbing from visiting Iowa in the finale.

When the Gator Bowl pairing was announced on Dec. 8, Bulldogs receiver Michael Bennett posted on Twitter, "Nebraska again? Are you kidding me?" And that's someone who didn't even play in last season's bowl due to ACL surgery.

"There were talks of different teams, but I guess they thought that was the best selection," Bennett said Monday, "so that's who we're going to play."

Georgia upset Michigan 15-7 at Ann Arbor in 1965, which was a win that helped jumpstart the 25-year coaching regime of Vince Dooley. The Wolverines were projected by many analysts to land in the Gator, but they were snagged instead to play Kansas State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Arizona.

The Bulldogs were being scouted by the Gator and Chick-Fil-A bowls, with one possibility being Georgia and Miami in Atlanta. The Chick-Fil-A opted for a different route, taking Texas A&M from the SEC and Duke from the ACC.

"I was kind of hoping we would play the U," Georgia coach and Miami alum Mark Richt said.

Georgia defeated Nebraska at the Capital One Bowl despite allowing 239 rushing yards and 443 total yards. Rex Burkhead rushed 24 times for 140 yards for the Cornhuskers, while Ameer Abdullah added seven rushes for 48 yards.

"They scored a lot of points," Bulldogs inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera said.

Abdullah has rushed for 1,568 yards and 6.2 yards a carry this season.

Richt was asked if he has talked to his players about having to play Nebraska again. He said the focus is on playing football, adding that he recently showed a highlight tape of the Bulldogs making big plays this season.

The highlight tape was intended to get the players excited, even if it's a rematch.

"I was kind of like the other guys in wanting to play Michigan or Iowa or Minnesota," Burnette said. "Those are teams we never get a shot to play, but I wasn't disappointed. I'm just glad we get to play another football game. It's my last go-around, so I'm not going to sit around and complain about who I'm playing.

"The team that wants to be there the most is usually the team that's going to win. We can't think of this as facing the same team or going to the same place but as another opportunity to get better and another opportunity to represent Georgia."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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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