“The first man gets the oyster, the second man gets the shell.” — Andrew Carnegie
“Nobody remembers who came in second.” — Charles Schulz
The SEC no longer allows the loser of its championship game to plummet to a third-tier bowl and Mark Richt’s Dawgs weren’t exactly forgotten as the team that finished No. 2 in the conference this season.
But it’s one of those typical quirks of the crazy world of college football that the SEC runner-up Dawgs and the No. 6 team in the BCS, Arkansas, both were passed over by the Capitol One Bowl in favor of South Carolina, which finished behind Georgia in the SEC East. Of course, the Gamecocks are ranked higher in the polls than Georgia and their fans are known for buying up all the bowl tickets they can get their hands on.
Another oddity: While getting pasted in the second half of the SEC championship apparently knocked Georgia down a notch in the bowl pairings, the ACC runner-up, Virginia Tech, managed to crack the BCS (also on the basis of its well-traveling fan base) despite suffering a similar loss in its championship game.
And, of course, Alabama, which didn’t even make its conference championship game, gets to play for the BCS national title. Basically, the only way making the SEC championship game helps you is if you win it.
One other bowl note: Georgia ended up with a much more prestigious postseason game than Boise State, the team that got the Dawgs’ season off to such a poor start. The Broncos, who only had one regular season loss, will be in the pre-Christmas Las Vegas Bowl.
I actually was hoping Georgia would end up returning to Dallas, where it’s still 10 to 9, but after getting blown out in the second half Saturday Tampa seemed the inevitable destination. The Cotton always prefers an SEC West team for ticket sales and probably would have gone with Georgia only if the SEC game with LSU had been a nail-biter. Which is fine; the Cotton and Outback are on equal footing and both are traditional New Year’s Day bowls (post-New Year’s this year). Plus, with Arkansas and Kansas State, the Cotton gets to match two Top 10 teams, which makes sense.
Also, in Michigan State, Georgia gets a higher ranked opponent than South Carolina, who will play Nebraska, which ranks a couple of spots behind Georgia in the coaches’ poll. And it seems fitting to match the runners-up in the SEC and Big 10 in a bowl game.
While the Spartans are higher ranked in the human polls, Georgia finished just ahead of Michigan State in the final BCS rankings at No. 16. It’s interesting that the human polls, where emotion and perception rule, all had the Dawgs falling to No. 18 (where even their own coach ranked them in the coaches’ poll) while they finished higher in the BCS thanks to the computer rankings, whose detached crunching of the numbers placed Georgia at No. 12.
Georgia and Michigan State look to be a pretty good match, with both having highly ranked defenses and occasionally prolific offenses.
The weekend might not have ended with sugar falling out of the sky like we dreamed, but this year’s bowl picture is certainly a lot brighter for Georgia than the past couple. I’m pleased. How about you?
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg