Georgia senior receiver Tavarres King set a school record with 205 yards in last season’s Outback Bowl against Michigan State, but the Bulldogs came up short in triple overtime.
ORLANDO, Fla. — In three seasons as Georgia's starting quarterback, redshirt junior Aaron Murray has thrown for nearly 10,000 yards and has racked up 90 touchdown passes. He is the first Bulldogs quarterback in a generation to defeat Florida in back-to-back seasons, and he has guided Georgia to consecutive SEC East Division titles.
A mere 5 yards against Alabama earlier this month kept Murray from obtaining his first league championship, and a bowl victory also is lacking from his list of accomplishments. The No. 5 Bulldogs (11-2) face No. 21 Nebraska (10-3) in the Capital One Bowl on Tuesday afternoon.
"I want to win a bowl game," Murray said. "I haven't won one as a starter, and I've been working extremely hard to win this game. I want to enjoy that feeling."
Not long ago, bowl victories were practically taken for granted at Georgia. The Bulldogs lost their first postseason appearance under Mark Richt in 2001 -- dropping a 20-16 decision to Boston College in the Music City Bowl -- before reeling off seven wins in eight tries.
From the 2002 to '09 seasons, Georgia won two Sugar bowls and two Capital One bowls while prevailing once in the Outback, Chick-fil-A and Independence bowls.
The postseason fortunes turned for the Bulldogs in 2010, when they suffered an embarrassing 10-6 loss to Conference USA champion Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl to cap a 6-7 season. Last year's Georgia team won 10 games during the regular season but blew a 16-point halftime lead against Michigan State in the Outback Bowl and lost 33-30 in triple overtime.
"There is definitely some motivation due to the fact we've lost our last two bowl games," senior receiver Tavarres King said. "This senior class and this team wants to win its bowl game. When you play in a bowl game, it carries over to the next season, and you really don't want to have that bad taste in your mouth until you play again.
"We definitely want to win this game."
King set a school record with 205 receiving yards during last January's loss to the Spartans in Tampa.
The Bulldogs have an impressive 26-18-3 bowl record, including a 3-1-1 mark in the Capital One, which was known previously as the Citrus Bowl and the Tangerine Bowl. They haven't lost three bowls in three consecutive seasons since 1974-76.
In addition to reversing its recent bowl trend, Georgia also has a chance to reclaim a lofty season-ending ranking. The Bulldogs finished No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll of the 2007 season but have since ended 13th, unranked, unranked and 19th.
"If we win this game, we would be among just two or three teams in Georgia history to win 12 games, and it would put us in the top five, which is an unbelievable season," Murray said. "It would definitely be a memorable season and one I would tell my kids about one day, but it could also hurt us if we don't win this game.
"We could drop out of the top 10, and then it would become just another season."
Odds and ends
The Bulldogs held their final practice for the Capital One Bowl on Sunday. ... Coach Mark Richt still isn't sure if senior defensive end Abry Jones (ankle) will be able to play. ... Richt: "We feel like we have done everything we can do to get ready for this game." ... Richt said one big difference in the bowl is that there is a 37-minute window between pregame warmups and the opening kickoff. Normally that gap is 20 minutes.
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 ...