ATLANTA — Fourth-ranked Georgia realized its dream of playing a postseason game in the Louisiana Superdome this season. It’s just not THE game it wanted.The Bulldogs (10-2) will take on the nation’s only major college unbeaten team when they face No. 10 Hawaii (12-0) in the Sugar Bowl game on New Year’s night — a week before the desired BCS championship game in the same arena for college football’s national championship.
Georgia was ranked No. 4 on the Bowl Championship Series list before the two top teams, Missouri and West Virginia, lost their finales, the Tigers in the Big 12 Conference title game.
The Bulldogs expected to move up to No. 2 for a championship game date with No. 1 Ohio State, but fellow Southeastern Conference member LSU surged from seventh to second in the BCS after winning the SEC championship game.
The Bulldogs will have to beat Hawaii to avoid the same fate that befell Oklahoma in last year’s Fiesta Bowl when the Sooners took on Boise State, like Hawaii a member of the Western Athletic Conference. Boise State upset the Sooners on the same field where Florida knocked off Ohio State the following week to win last season’s national championship.
Georgia coach Mark Richt wants his team to realize how important a victory could be in setting the stage for next year.
"We have a lot to gain with this victory," Richt said. "I think the underclassmen realize a victory here could set the stage for the future. The way the BCS is set up, it’s very important where you’re ranked in the preseason. I hate to say that much about it, but that’s the way it is."
It won’t be an easy task stopping Colt Brennan’s effectiveness in an offense Hawaii coach June Jones has loved for years — the run and shoot, one he used during his tenure as coach of the Atlanta Falcons.
With his background in Georgia, Jones knows a good deal about the Bulldogs and their history.
Jones fretted a little over the lengthy period between when the Sugar teams were named and the game was to be played.
"It gives them a lot of time to prepare for us," Jones said. "We play a kind of different style of football and when you have more time to practice against the defensive schemes and the offensive schemes."
Brennan passed for 4,174 yards and 38 touchdowns this season and has 131 career TD passes, an NCAA record.
Georgia’s more conventional offense features an exciting freshman tailback, Knowshon Moreno, who ran for 1,273 yards and 12 touchdowns, sparking the Bulldogs to a six-game winning streak to end the season.