(Author’s Note: I indicated earlier that we would set up an open comment thread for the ESPN bowl selection show at 8:30 p.m. Eastern. However, now that our bowl bid has been announced formally by official sources, there would seem to be no need to pretend that there is any longer any suspense regarding the Bulldogs’ postseason destination. What follows, therefore, is my take on the Capital One Bowl, which should be taken to represent my views and my views alone, as there are reasonable differences of opinion among the members of the Dawg Sports staff regarding the bowl bid.)
Right about the time I was starting to get jazzed about the probability that Georgia was Dallas-bound to participate in the Cotton Bowl, the news began to leak out on Twitter that the interested league offices had gotten involved to protect their conference runners-up in the wake of their respective championship games. As a result of those efforts, the Georgia Bulldogs will be headed to Orlando to play in the Capital One Bowl against the Big Ten runners-up, the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Though Nebraska, obviously, represents one of the more storied programs in college football history, I would be lying if I said I was not disappointed with this postseason pairing. We knew going in that the Florida Gators would receive the Sugar Bowl bid, which I cannot claim was entirely undeserved. However, the prospect of playing the Oklahoma Sooners or the Texas Longhorns in the Cotton Bowl, site of victories by Vince Dooley-led Georgia teams that capped off the 1966 and 1983 campaigns, had me enthusiastic about the postseason, since the Cotton Bowl airs on a night by itself on January 4, making it the last major bowl game to take place prior to the BCS National Championship Game.
However, the Capital One Bowl, which used to be the Citrus Bowl, and was the Tangerine Bowl before that, officially is ahead of the Cotton Bowl in the picking (and, hence, pecking) order; though it is one of several games played on New Year’s Day, it officially is the most prestigious non-BCS bowl, even if multiple aspects of the Cotton Bowl made it the more attractive option from a fan’s perspective.
Though this will be the Bulldogs’ fifth trip in ten seasons to face a Big Ten team in a bowl game in the Sunshine State, it will be only Georgia’s second meeting with the Cornhuskers, who handed the Red and Black what remains their most lopsided postseason defeat in the 1969 Sun Bowl. The Classic City Canines have gone bowling in Orlando five times previously, going 3-1-1 there.
Motivation will be the key to this matchup. Though both teams finished second in their respective leagues, losing to the probable eventual national champion on the final play on a neutral field would seem, to put it mildly, to be distinguishable from losing by 39 points to a five-loss also-ran who backed into the title tilt because the top two teams in its division were postseason-ineligible. However, it remains to be seen which team is the madder, or the more discouraged, heading into the new year. I would note, in that respect, that Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini dissed the ‘Dawgs on his final poll ballot.