The Georgia Bulldogs are preparing to take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Capital One Bowl on New Year’s Day, and we are helping you prepare for the game by looking back at the 1969 Sun Bowl, 1974 Tangerine Bowl, 1984 Citrus Bowl, and 1993 Citrus Bowl. We now turn to the Red and Black’s fourth trip to Orlando, for the 2004 Capital One Bowl.
In the early 2000s, a credit card company took over the sponsorship of the Citrus Bowl, and, as with Chick-fil-A’s similar arrangement with the Peach Bowl, the corporate endorsement soon led to a change in the contest’s nomenclature. Accordingly, by the time the Bulldogs were invited back to Orlando at the end of the 2003 campaign, what originally had been the Tangerine Bowl had become the Capital One Bowl.
By whatever name the game was known, though, it annually had paired top 20 teams from the SEC and the Big Ten since the Athenians’ last appearance there, and the January 1, 2004, affair was no exception, pitting No. 11 Georgia and the 12th-ranked Purdue Boilermakers. Four years earlier, the Bulldogs and the Boilers had crossed paths for the first time in Tampa’s Outback Bowl, where the Red and Black overcame a 25-0 deficit to claim a thrilling overtime victory. The two teams were destined for a repeat performance in Orlando.
Georgia came into the Capital One Bowl sporting a 10-3 record following a second straight SEC Championship Game appearance in Mark Richt’s third season. The Bulldogs’ only losses were to the eventual national champion and to the team that beat the eventual national champion. Purdue had overcome a season-opening setback suffered at the hands of the Bowling Green Falcons to win nine of the Boilermakers’ last eleven games and post the best regular-season record of Joe Tiller’s tenure in West Lafayette . . . a stretch that had included seven straight bowl appearances at a program that had made it into the postseason once in the preceding 16 seasons.
This time around, it was the Red and Black who built up the seemingly insurmountable early advantage. Bowl MVP David Greene connected with Fred Gibson for a pair of first-quarter touchdowns, and Billy Bennett tacked on a 28-yard field goal in the second period. Shortly before halftime, Reggie Brown brought in an 11-yard TD pass from Greene to make the score 24-0. Greene would complete 27 of 37 aerials for 327 yards and a trio of touchdowns, while Brown would bring in five receptions for 99 yards and finish as the Athenians’ leading receiver.
The Boilermakers were not inclined to go quietly, however, as they tacked on a touchdown and a field goal in the final 181 seconds of the first half. Following a scoreless third quarter, Purdue cut the Bulldogs’ lead to seven points with a touchdown early in the final period. Although Bennett’s 40-yard field goal with four and a half minutes remaining in regulation appeared to cement the victory for Georgia, the Boilers still would not go away, tallying another touchdown with 1:34 showing on the clock.
Down, 27-24, the Big Ten runner-up attempted an onside kick, which the Red and Black recovered, seemingly sealing the deal, but Kregg Lumpkin fumbled while attempting to run out the clock. Set up at the Georgia 34 yard line, Purdue cashed in with the tying 44-yard field goal with 49 seconds left in the allotted, and insufficient, 60 minutes, so the contest proceeded to overtime.
Lumpkin, who led all Bulldog backs with 90 yards on 27 carries in his first career start, atoned for his earlier miscue by forcing his way into the end zone on fourth and goal on the Classic City Canines’ first possession. Holding a 34-27 lead, Georgia went on the defensive, only to see the Boilermakers drive to the Bulldogs’ four yard line. On fourth and goal, Tony Taylor brought in the interception that finally ended the game, in which the ‘Dawgs led in total yards (440-289), first downs (23-15), and time of possession (35:29-24:31). The victory gave the Athenians back-to-back seasons of eleven wins or better for the first time in school history.