ATHENS — The Georgia football team learned on Wednesday there will be no regular-season finale, despite the program’s last-ditch effort to make something happen.
The No. 8-ranked Bulldogs (7-2) were scheduled to play Vanderbilt (0-9) at Sanford Stadium at noon on Saturday in the season finale, but the Commodores opted out of the game for the second time in the last three weeks.
“It’s one of those things, that’s a lot out of our control and very little we can do about it,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart told 680 The Fan radio on Tuesday. “I know DawgNation is disappointed
“I can promise your our seniors are terribly disappointed, but not a lot we can do right now but focus on the next day and the next minute.”
UGA athletic director Greg McGarity, who correctly predicted two weeks ago when Vandy pulled out of the Dec. 5 game that the Commodores would do it again, worked to find a replacement game.
“While we conducted our due diligence in finding a replacement game, we were unable to make it happen,” McGarity said in a release.
The AJC.com reported Georgia had talks with Colorado, Colorado State and New Mexico, along with other Group of 5 schools, but could not find an appropriate replacement opponent.
Georgia played just three home games this season and six games away from Sanford Stadium. That was in part a result of the current administration playing the designated home game with Florida in Jacksonville.
“We now focus on our upcoming bowl game,” McGarity said.
The Bulldogs are currently protected to play Cincinnati in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta on Jan. 1, but there are ways that path could change.
Georgia will likely play Clemson in the Orange Bowl if:
• Alabama beats Florida in the SEC Championship Game
• Texas A&M beats Tennessee
• Notre Dame upsets Clemson in the ACC Championship Game
The Orange Bowl has tie-ins to take the highest-ranked ACC team that’s not in the College Football Playoff, and the highest-ranked team from the pool of SEC and Big Ten teams not in the playoff.
The Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl are hosting the CFP semifinal games this season.
That leaves the Fiesta Bowl, Cotton Bowl and Peach Bowl as the three other New Year’s Six Bowls that will choose from the eligible teams in the College Football Playoff Standings.
The pairings for those three bowls will be made by the College Football Playoff Committee.
The Vanderbilt cancellation has Georgia players and their families fuming. The Bulldogs are the only program in the SEC not to have a Senior Day to celebrate the outgoing players.
“We are also working on alternative ways to honor our senior class,” McGarity said, “who deserve the opportunity to be celebrated as one of the most prolific classes in University of Georgia history.”
The Bulldogs were set to honor 23 seniors, before the Vanderbilt football team announced it would not play in Athens as scheduled on Dec. 19.
The Georgia senior class (43-9) needed two more wins to become the winningest class in school history, but with Vanderbilt pulling out, that legacy is lost.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey has not commented on the Commodores decision to cancel on Georgia for the Dec. 5 game, then play Tennessee in their Senior Day game on Dec. 12, before canceling again on the Dec. 19 game.
Had Vanderbilt provided more notice, Georgia would have had more time to find an alternate for Dec. 19.