Tis the season for bowl projections, and there's some thought that the Georgia Bulldogs will be returning to familiar territory for the New Year, and perhaps against a familiar opponent.
Specifically, the prediction is that Coach Richt's squad will square off in the Gator Bowl against an opponent from the Big Ten seems to be popping up all over the place. SB Nation's own Team Speed Kills projected as much last week, though the selection of the Michigan Wolverines as their likely opponent now looks a little more tenuous.
More recently, a Gator Bowl representative told the Florida Times-Union that this Friday's Iowa-Nebraska game would be "huge" for the bowl, which appears to be considering the Huskers and Hawkeyes, along with Michigan and the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Admittedly, a repeat engagement with Nebraska (whom the Bulldogs defeated 45-31 in last year's Capital One Bowl) may not exactly set Bulldog fans abuzz. But I submit that a return trip to Jacksonville beats a return trip to Orlando, for a couple of reasons. One, Bulldog fans may be more likely to travel to a bowl that allows them to stay in the Golden Isles for the New Year's holiday. Two, I can't see how Hutson Mason getting live action snaps at EverBank before next year's WLOCP hurts. Finally, it would be our first trip to the Gator Bowl since Vince Dooley's final game on the sideline, a 1989 Gator Bowl victory over an Andre Rison-led Michigan State team. The 'Dawgs are 2-0-1 in the bowl that shares a name with the sunshine state team that isn't bowling this season, by the way.
The Huskers should be a slight home favorite over Iowa, but the 7-4 Hawkeyes would also be an attractive bowl opponent for Coach Richt's squad, as one of the handful of Big Ten squads with whom the 'Dawgs have never tangled in bowl action.
Of course, the Gator isn't set in stone, as a couple of others, including SB Nation's own Jason Kirk, project the Bulldogs to the Music City Bowl in Nashville, perhaps against Pitt or Boston College. Admittedly, Bulldog fans would probably be less excited about a trip to Nashville for the second time this season, though the last time Mark Richt led his team into that particular bowl he spent the following bowl season winning both an SEC Championship and a Sugar Bowl. So perhaps Music City in late December is a good omen.
For my part, I think a lot of where Georgia ends up depends on a) whether we can take care of business against Georgia Tech, and b) where Texas A&M and Ole Miss wind up. If Texas A&M is in the Cotton Bowl, the Gator Bowl folks may well take a look at Ole Miss. Rebel fans however would probably be no more excited about going to Nashville than Bulldog partisans, and the Gator Bowl folk might like to snag Hugh Freeze's young squad if they can. In other words, nothing is set in stone at this point, so stay flexible with your travel plans. Until later . . .