Georgia Holds Off Badgers in Outback

TAMPA, Fla. - David Greene's senior roommate and a freshman running back teamed up Saturday to save Georgia's quarterback a trip to the engraver.

On Dec. 10, during the No. 8 Bulldogs' annual senior banquet, David Greene was presented with a plaque commemorating his NCAA-record 42 wins. At the time, he only had 41.

"Obviously, we were trying to be optimistic," Greene said, "but I didn't want to jinx it, either."

On Saturday in the Outback Bowl, Georgia topped No. 16 Wisconsin 24-21 to make Greene's trophy a reality.

"You can keep that plaque, now," Coach Mark Richt told his quarterback as they walked off the field.

A near sellout crowd of 62,414 in Raymond James Stadium watched the Bulldogs (10-2) build a 24-6 lead and then hold off a furious Badger rally to notch their third straight season with 10 or more wins.

"Our season didn't finish like we wanted it to so we had to come out and play for what we could, which was a 10-win season," junior safety Thomas Davis said.

Georgia's senior class leaves with an overall record of 42-10, the second-best stretch in school history.

The victory wasn't secured until freshman running back Thomas Brown gained 11 yards on a fourth-and-one to allow Georgia to run out the clock. Brown rushed for a game-high 111 yards, including 49 on the final drive.

Defensive end David Pollack, Greene's childhood friend and college roommate, appeared to have sealed the win with 5:08 left when he sacked Wisconsin quarterback John Stocco and stripped the ball away as the pair fell to the ground.

"It took a lot of keen eyesight by the officials to get that one right," Richt said. "They could have very easily ruled it a sack."

It was a big-play day for the Georgia defense, which had an Outback Bowl record seven sacks and held the Big Ten's fourth-best rushing offense to an Outback-low 1.7 yards per carry.

The Badgers had 230 yards of total offense, 133 of which came on five plays in the second half.

"We had our chances in the second half," Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez said. "Against a team like that, you better cash in."

After Pollack's fumble recovery, Georgia took possession at its own 16-yard line leading 24-13. However, on the third play of the drive, Wisconsin linebacker Andy Crooks stepped in front of a screen pass thrown by Greene and returned it 11 yards for a touchdown.

Richt indicated he and Greene shared responsibility for the play. While Greene should have thrown the ball a little higher, Richt acknowledged that the call and the sideline management should have been better. Richt made the call because the Badgers had played a soft zone in the same situation earlier in the game, and he thought they would again. But this time the Badgers' blitzed.

Also, Wisconsin may have known what was coming, Richt said, because the Bulldogs inserted Brown, their best receiving tailback, into the game just before the play.

"I saw their defensive coordinator (saying) watch the screen when he saw Thomas Brown," Richt said.

The Badgers' score and a successful 2-point conversion pulled them to within three at 24-21 with 4:13 left in the game, but Georgia was able to run out the clock with a 9-play, 54-yard drive. The Bulldogs passed up a field goal attempt from Wisconsin's 15-yard line late in the drive in order to hang onto the ball.

Offensive coordinator Neil Callaway made the call that led to Brown's decisive run, Richt said.

"Coach Callaway stepped up and made the call and believed in it enough to convince me," Richt said. "And it was the perfect call. It was right there."

Georgia had 460 yards of total offense.

"I'm shocked we had that much," Richt said. "It felt like 300."

Greene was 19 of 38 for 264 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw two interceptions, matching his total from the entire regular season.

"It wasn't by any means my best performance," he said.

At least he gets to keep his plaque.

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