Georgia/Purdue Bowl Preview

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Georgia coach Mark Richt doesn't consider himself a master motivator so he's going with a classic theme to inspire his team for the Capital One Bowl -- redemption.

Mark Richt said his pre-game message would focus on the LSU game and how soundly the Bulldogs were beaten the last time they took the field. He also planned to remind them that, for the millions of people who watched the SEC Championship game on television, that 34-13 loss is their last impression of the No. 11 Bulldogs.

"There're not too pleased with what happened the last time we played on national TV," he said. "The closer we get to the game and the next chance to play on national television, we'll bring that up to them."

The next chance comes Thursday at 1 p.m. when Georgia (10-3) plays No. 12 Purdue (9-3) in the Capital One Bowl.

Georgia won its only previous meeting against the Boilermakers, 28-25 in the Outback Bowl following the 1999 season. Purdue hasn't beaten an SEC team since 1979, when it topped Tennessee 27-22 in the Bluebonnet Bowl. That was also the last time it played an SEC team prior to its loss to Georgia.

Linebacker Odell Thurman predicted the Bulldogs would easily see through Richt's ages-old ploy but added that doesn't mean it won't work.

"It'll motivate the people who really care," he said.

Safety Thomas Davis agreed, pointing out the defense feels particularly in need of redemption because it surrendered 444 yards to the Tigers.

"I feel like it will work very well," he said. "It leaves a bitter taste in your mouth when a team puts up that many points and yards against you."

Despite Georgia's poor outing in its last game, today's game is expected to be a test of defenses. Both teams rank in the nation's top 10 in scoring defense (Georgia, 2nd; Purdue, 8th). It will also feature two quarterbacks -- the Bulldogs' David Greene and the Boilermakers' Kyle Orton -- who Richt says are "probably going to be considered two of the best in the country next year."

Orton was named honorable mention All-Big Ten after throwing for 2,655 yards and 14 touchdowns this year.

Although Richt will preach pride to his team, Georgia and Purdue have tangible motivations, too. The winner probably will finish in the nation's top 10. For Georgia, it would be the first back-to-back top 10 finishes since 1983. Purdue could achieve the second 10-win season in 116 years of football

"Our goals are very much the same," Richt said. "There are so many great things that can come of it. I think the bottom line with our guys is they like to play football, they like to win."

A victory to end this season could help Georgia next year. The Bulldogs will be considered a national title contender entering next season and a win today would improve their preseason ranking and, therefore, their chances to rank high in the BCS standings.

"We want to start the 2004 season off right by opening up the year with a win," Davis said.

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