Bowl rematch with Nebraska wasn’t first choice of every Bulldog

Chris Burnette was feeling Minnesota.

Or maybe a bowl matchup with the Wolverines or Hawkeyes.

Georgia-Nebraska in the Gator Bowl a year after the Bulldogs beat the Cornhuskers in the Capital One Bowl? Not so much.

“I was kind of like the other guys,” the Georgia senior offensive lineman said. “I did want to play Michigan or Iowa or Minnesota, just a team that you never get a shot to play. At the same time, I wasn’t disappointed. I’m just glad we get to play another football game. It’s my last go-round. I’m not going to sit here and complain about who I’m playing because it’s my last shot, so it doesn’t matter.”

Georgia players didn’t do much complaining Monday at their bowl media day about another go-round with the same postseason dance partner as last season.

The New Year’s Day game in Jacksonville doesn’t have quite the juice a Georgia-Miami game in the Chick-fil-A Bowl would have had or another fresher pairing.

“I was kind of hoping we were going to play the U or I heard there was a chance we could play the alma mater,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said of Miami, where he was a backup quarterback. “This will be great because Nebraska is the team I grew up admiring. That was my team as a kid (in Omaha, Neb.) so it worked out good.”

The Chick-Fil-A went with Texas A&M-Duke in the Atlanta bowl and the Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe, Ariz., grabbed Michigan, which Georgia hasn’t played since 1965, before the Gator Bowl could.

Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason, preparing for his second college start in place of injured Aaron Murray, has already broken down “several,” Nebraska games.

“One thing I noticed is they were a few, one drive, one play here, from being 9-3 or being in a bigger bowl or playing in their conference championship just like us,” Mason said. “I don’t think 8-4 describes their record just like I don’t think 8-4 describes our record. They’ve got a lot of talent. It’s going to be a challenge.”

Georgia is a nine-point favorite.

“We’ve got a lot of video obviously from this season and also from last season,” Richt said.

“Not a lot of changes (scheme-wise) for either team, quite frankly, so I’m sure last year’s game is going to be very valuable for both coaching staffs to try to decide how to attack this year.”

Georgia has 11 players — eight on offense — who started against both Nebraska last season and in its most recent game against Georgia Tech. Nebraska has eight players who started against Georgia last time around who started in its regular season finale against Iowa.

Of course, Murray and Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez will be missing the game this time due to injuries.

“I don’t care who we’re playing,” Mason said. “I’m glad to be playing. It’s a challenge. We’re playing on national TV on (ESPN2). That’s what I came here for. …From what I hear in the locker room, I really haven’t heard any complaints. I think guys are ready to go.”

“I’m excited to play any game,” junior receiver Chris Conley said. “That’s honest. With the way our season went this year and all the adversity we went through, I’m glad to be at a bowl game. I’m glad we get a chance to play. I think the opportunity that we have to play this team is going to help our younger guys. …It’s an offense that can score and a defense that’s going to run fast and hit you hard.”

The Cornhuskers could have one edge over Georgia. Extra motivation after losing last year’s game to the Bulldogs 45-31.

“They’re going to be coming with a chip on their shoulder,” Mason said. “I’m sure they don’t care that they’re playing us again. I’m sure they’re pumped they’re going to be playing us again. We better be ready or they’re going to embarrass us.”

Follow marcweiszer

marcweiszer

@JeffSchultzAJC @SethEmerson @BizWriterKristi Less than 3 weeks until basketball opener. Not that we are counting down.

10 hours ago