published Monday, December 5th, 2011

Georgia Bulldogs look to keep building

FAMILIAR FACES


The Georgia Bulldogs have a recent history of facing teams multiple times in bowls within a short stretch:

OPPONENT SEASONS (BOWLS)

Virginia 1995 (Peach), '98 (Peach), 2000 (Oahu)

Wisconsin 1997 (Outback), 2004 (Outback)

Purdue 1999 (Outback), 2003 (Capital One)

Michigan State 2008 (Capital One), 2011 (Outback)

The Georgia Bulldogs became the first team ever to allow 42 consecutive points in a Southeastern Conference championship game, but they do not believe Saturday's 42-10 humbling at the hands of No. 1 LSU should detract from their accomplishments overall.

"It doesn't take anything away," safety Bacarri Rambo said. "We went 6-7 last season, and now we've got 10 wins. We did a great job of turning this program around, but we've just got to keep building on it."

Georgia's season will continue Jan. 2, when the No. 18 Bulldogs will face No. 12 Michigan State at the Outback Bowl in Tampa. Each team is 10-3, and each is coming off a loss in its conference championship.

The Spartans dropped a 42-39 decision to Wisconsin in the inaugural Big Ten title clash Saturday night.

Georgia and Michigan State met after the 2008 season at the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, where the Bulldogs shook off a 6-3 halftime deficit and pulled away for a 24-12 win. Quarterback Matthew Stafford and tailback Knowshon Moreno were playing a final time for the Bulldogs, and Stafford earned MVP honors by completing 20 of 31 passes for 250 yards and three touchdowns.

"I'm really excited for our team and especially our seniors with the opportunity to play in the Outback Bowl, which is one of the premier January bowl games," coach Mark Richt said. "We were fortunate to play in this game back in 2005 and had a terrific experience. This will be the first time the members of our team have the opportunity to play in Tampa, and playing a top quality opponent like Michigan State will be a challenge we'll look forward to."

Georgia will be playing in its 47th bowl game, which is the sixth most of any team nationally. The Bulldogs have an all-time bowl record of 26-17-3 and are 7-3 under Richt.

The Outback Bowl will be a homecoming for Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray and Bulldogs tight end Orson Charles, who connected four times for 42 yards against LSU. Charles had an 11-yard reception to convert a third down on Georgia's lone touchdown drive late in the first quarter, and he was responsible for one of only two third-down conversions the Bulldogs had in their disastrous third quarter.

Georgia held LSU without a first down in the first half, but the Bulldogs wound up committing three turnovers and were hapless on punt coverage.

"I think what this does is just show that you have to be on top of your game," defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. "We've taken some major strides this season, and we got ourselves into this game with work and production and success that we had. For 30 minutes, we were as good as they were, and for the next 30 minutes we weren't.

"We've got to say 'Why did that happen?' And then we've got to correct those mistakes."

All three of Georgia's losses occurred to teams currently in the top 10. The Bulldogs do not have a win over any team that is currently ranked, but they have a chance to amend that in Tampa.

"We definitely turned this program back around," center Ben Jones said. "We won the SEC East, and for 30 minutes in this game we were lights out against the No. 1 team in the nation."

Said Murray: "I think it was a pretty solid season. It's not the way we wanted to finish off, but we still have a bowl game, and we want to end with a win."

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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Marathon5454 said...

After all the years of great Georgia running backs, how did we get all these "lightweights" ? LSU had at least four backs who were far better than our best

December 5, 2011 at 9:54 a.m.

Georgia had not played the higher ranked SEC teams of LSU, Bama, or Arky in the regualar reason. Instead, they had Ole Miss, Miss. State, and Auburn. Schedule was kind to the mutts.

December 5, 2011 at 11:27 a.m.
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