ATHENS – It’s very possible that whether Georgia won or lost on Saturday would have no effect on its bowl destination. Its biggest impact would be on the feel around the program over the next month, and perhaps beyond.
The result, and thus the feel around the program: Not good.
“That bowl game will come. I’m not worried about that right now,” junior safety Dominick Sanders said after his team’s inexplicable collapse in the fourth quarter, and 28-27 loss to rival Georgia Tech. “The main thing is looking back at what we did wrong in this game, learn from those mistakes, and prepare for the next game.”
What game will that be?
That won’t be official until a week from Sunday. But the Music City Bowl made clear earlier in the week it would delighted to have Georgia for the first time since 2001. The Liberty Bowl, which the Bulldogs went to 2010, is also interested.
Officially, the decision is made by the SEC office in conjunction with the bowls. A premium will be placed on match-ups, so when things begin hashing out, anything can happen.
The impact of Saturday’s loss is to take away any remote possibility of Georgia of getting a Citrus Bowl bid. (That bowl gets first pick of teams left after the playoffs and Sugar Bowl pick SEC teams.) There were two representatives from the Citrus at Saturday’s game, but that bowl also tends to send reps to every game, whether or not it’s considering that team.
After that, there are six second-tier bowls. The Outback Bowl, one of those six, might have had its eye on Georgia, but that’s likely off the table now. Could Georgia fall out of that mix and into the lower-tier Birmingham or Independence Bowls? Possible, but unlikely.
There are nine SEC teams with at least seven wins. Unless a six-win team is picked ahead of a seven-win team, those nine SEC teams would fill up the spots for the playoff, Sugar, Citrus and the other six bowls.
But if South Carolina upsets Clemson Saturday night, then yes, at least one seven-win team would be shunted off to Birmingham or Shreveport.
Whatever bowl is in, it will begin bowl practice in about two weeks, and spend the meantime on the recruiting trail.
“We get the players here some bowl practice, which is helpful, to be able to go practice for a bowl game, wherever we get to go,” Smart said. “And improve our team, improve our depth, get the younger players who aren’t playing better. And then go and recruit for the next 14 days, we get to go hit the road recruiting. And that’s ultimately the lifeblood of your program, how do you recruit, and can you improve what you’ve got on your team.”