ATHENS, Ga. — Go Dawgs!
Go Gamecocks! Go Rebels! Go Crimson Tide! Go Commodores!
Georgia football players will head to the Capital One Bowl against Michigan State not only wanting to represent their university but the Southeastern Conference. The SEC went 7-2 in bowl games last year, with LSU and Georgia finishing 1-2 nationally in The Associated Press poll.
“You always want the SEC to look good,” senior fullback Brannan Southerland said Wednesday. “They always do that bowl breakdown of the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 and what their record is in the bowls, so we definitely want to represent the SEC well.”
Georgia coach Mark Richt holds up the trophy after their 41-10 win over Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl football game at the Superdome, in New Orleans, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2008. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
Let’s just say Georgia’s league loyalty will be tested when Florida faces Oklahoma for the BCS championship.
“That’s the hard one right there,” Southerland said. “I want the SEC, but there are a couple of teams that you’re not so fond of. I haven’t made my decision on that one yet.”
Said quarterback Matthew Stafford: “I just want a good game in that one.”
No SEC team has helped the league’s postseason reputation more in recent seasons than the Bulldogs, who are making their 12th straight bowl appearance and are 9-2 in the past 11. LSU has a 7-2 record in the same time frame, while Auburn is 6-3 and Ole Miss 5-1.
“I think all of the Southeastern Conference teams take pride in trying to win the most bowl games,” coach Mark Richt said. “I’m like a fan in that I want to see us on top. I think a great example was when I had a chance to watch Alabama play Clemson in the opening game. Towards the end, when it was inevitable Alabama was going to win, they weren’t cheering, ‘Alabama! Alabama!’ They were cheering, ‘SEC! SEC.’ There is a lot of pride in our league.”
Georgia is the last SEC team to win the Capital One, as Big Ten teams have reeled off four consecutive New Year’s Day victories in Orlando. The Bulldogs are favored by more than a touchdown, and many national analysts are touting the Bulldogs as the biggest locks of all of the 34 bowls.
The Bulldogs and Spartans have identical 9-3 records, with each going 6-2 in league play with lopsided losses. The biggest difference between the two is that Georgia began this season ranked No. 1 nationally, while Michigan State was seeking to build on a 7-6 record in 2008.
“I’m sure a lot of teams would love to play in this bowl and would love to be 9-3, so I don’t think it’s anything to be disappointed about,” weakside linebacker Rennie Curran said. “We’ve just got to learn from this year and try to get to a better bowl next year, but to think this is a letdown bowl is crazy. It’s a huge opportunity to make a statement nationally, and we’re going to do that. We’re going to take care of business.
“If we blow them out, it would say a lot for each conference.”
And will Curran be pulling for the Gators?
“Yes I will,” he said. “I respect them. They’ve worked hard and deserve the success they’ve gotten this year.”
University of Georgia photo
Georgia football coach Mark Richt improved to 5-2 in bowl games with last season’s rout of Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl.
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 ...