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December 2, 2007Georgia's football team will be spending its New Year's holiday in New Orleans, just not at the bowl the Bulldogs had hoped.
Mark Richt's squad will play Hawaii in the Allstate Sugar Bowl Jan. 1 at the Superdome (8:30 p.m.) after dropping to No. 5 in the final BCS standings behind Ohio State, LSU, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech.
The Tigers and Buckeyes will meet for the national championship, also in New Orleans on Jan. 7.
"We're disappointed, but what's done is done," said senior safety Kelin Johnson. "Once it's done, you can't undo it. All we can do is play football, and play it hard."
Richt was predictably more upbeat and revealed Sunday night that he intends to break out the black jerseys worn in the Bulldogs' 45-20 win over Auburn.
Ticket pre-sales have been brisk. Sports information director Claude Felton said the school has pre-sold 22,000 tickets, while Hawaii coach June Jones said later that his school's fans have sold their 17,500 allotment and will be looking for more.
Richt urged Bulldog fans who haven't bought tickets to the game yet to do so.
"If we can make a great showing it will serve notice for future bowl games because it's very important to show these (BCS) bowls that our fans support the team and come, spend time and spend money to enjoy a great bowl experience," Richt said. "We're really counting on the Bulldog Nation to help us out once again."
Richt did have some critical words for ESPN analysts, who according to the Georgia coach, helped disqualify the Bulldogs from consideration from the BCS game, even though BCS rules state that a team does not have to win its conference to play in the BCS Championship.
"I do believe that they (ESPN) and all the media who had the voice got the ears of the nation and the voters basically disqualified us and Kansas by saying we had to win the conference championship," Richt said. "I thought that as wrong because the rules don't state that. Basically, a rule that does not exist got imposed on us and Kansas."
Hawaii coach June Jones is thrilled about the matchup with Georgia for a couple of very big reasons.
No. 1: The Warriors (12-0) will be making their first appearance in a BCS game. No. 2: Hawaii's share of the $13 million payout will definitely come in handy.
"My recruiting budget is $50,000, so just the fact that we're able to go out and compete with a school like Georgia is pretty amazing," Jones said. "We'll obviously reap some of the benefits from that. Maybe now I'll be able to get some new carpet and some other new stuff in my office when we bring recruits in. Maybe we can start looking like a first-class operation."
The Rainbows already have a first-class quarterback.
Led by Heisman Trophy candidate Colt Brennan, who passed for 4,174 yards and 38 touchdowns, Richt said that Hawaii will present a challenge unlike any the Bulldogs have seen this year.
Against Washington, Brennan completed 42 of 50 passes for 442 yards and all five of the Rainbows' scores.
Hawaii ranks third nationally total offense (1st, 529.3 yards per game) and first in points scored at 46.2 points per game.