ATHENS, Ga. — The good news is the Georgia football team will be home for Christmas.
The bad news is the Bulldogs also will be home New Year's Day.
After Louisiana State's upset win over Tennessee in Saturday night's SEC championship game added more confusion to an already jumbled bowl season, Georgia was passed over by the Outback, Peach and Cotton bowls before being taken by the Dec. 28 Music City Bowl in Nashville Sunday.
Georgia will play Boston College in Adelphia Stadium in the 5 p.m. ET game, to be televised by ESPN.
One year ago, a 7-4 Georgia team was hoping for a Music City bid but instead landed in the now-defunct Oahu Bowl in Hawaii.
This year, an 8-3 and 16th-ranked Georgia landed in Nashville after the Outback picked South Carolina, the Cotton chose Arkansas and the Peach selected Auburn.
Georgia officials tried to place a positive spin on the disappointing bowl news.
Athletics director Vince Dooley admitted the bowl bid was "initially somewhat surprising'' but said the game will be a good fit for Georgia fans.
"From the standpoint of our fans, it is within driving distance, they know Nashville and have great memories from being there many, many times,'' Dooley said.
"We've never had an opportunity to play in the Music City Bowl, so I'll look at it as an opportunity to increase a strength we're proud of to have played in so many bowls.''
Georgia is accustomed to Southeastern Conference games in Nashville at Vanderbilt Stadium, but the bowl game is played at Adelphia Stadium, the Tennessee Titans' new stadium.
Georgia coach Mark Richt had said several times he hoped the Bulldogs would land in a Florida bowl game to enjoy the warm weather, but Sunday he said the Bulldogs can't complain about their surprising destination.
"If you don't win the conference, then really you're at the mercy of the system,'' Richt said. "The fact we didn't win the conference and weren't in position to go to a BCS game ... everything after that is up to the system.''
Added Richt: "If you looked at us after losing to Florida and Auburn, it was just a question of if we were going to make it to a bowl game, period.''
After those losses, Georgia closed with wins over Mississippi, Georgia Tech and Houston and was widely projected as the Outback Bowl's first choice. That changed with Tennessee's loss Saturday night.
After Tennessee dropped out of the BCS and to the Citrus Bowl, the Outback had the next choice of SEC teams and picked South Carolina.
"South Carolina beat Georgia head-up, they have a better conference record and they were ranked higher,'' Outback Bowl president Jim McVay said Sunday. "It just seemed they were the team that should be picked.''
The Cotton Bowl had the next pick of SEC teams and stayed with its tradition of selecting a Western Division team. Officials from several bowls, including the Cotton, have said with travel concerns this year it was more important to select a team with fans who could drive to the game.
Georgia has played in the Peach Bowl twice in the last six years, but that committee's hotel and restaurant interests are better served by selecting a team whose fans might be more likely to spend the night.
The result was as surprising to Music City Bowl executive director Scott Ramsey as to anyone.
"Georgia got on a run late in the year and we thought they were going to be gone way before we selected,'' Ramsey said.
"This is really the best football team we've had the opportunity to have here. We're excited about it as an organization.''
Big East teams have won each of the first three Music City matchups against SEC teams, but Georgia is the first ranked SEC team in the bowl.
The Music City has a minimum guaranteed payout of $750,000 per team, less than half the financial reward of the New Year's bowls. The Outback pays $2.2 million.
With Dooley still the coach, Georgia lost to Boston College 27-24 in the Hall of Fame Bowl in Tampa (later renamed the Outback Bowl) in 1986. In the only other times the teams played, Georgia beat Boston College in 1950 and 1951.
Richt said Georgia's bowl practice will begin Friday. He tentatively plans to allow players to go home for Christmas before traveling to Nashville the night of the 25th.