Still Capital One Bound?

ATHENS - Georgia looked to be a near lock for the Capital One Bowl last week, but the Bulldogs' upset loss at the hands of Georgia Tech combined with Mississippi's blowout win over rival Mississippi State has muddied the waters a bit.

While Georgia still could be headed to Orlando, Fla. for New Year's, Capital One Bowl representative Billy Crozier said the case for Ole Miss was made during a meeting Monday morning.

"The scout for the Ole Miss-Mississippi State game made a strong argument for why Ole Miss should be considered, especially since they finished the season so strong," Crozier said in an email Monday.

"She also said that she saw a lot of cotton coming down from the upper deck, so clearly a lot of fans (thought) that the Cotton Bowl (was) in their future. I'm guessing there will also be some consideration given that Ole Miss has never participated in our game."

Georgia head coach Mark Richt made his team's case to Capital One Bowl representatives after the game Saturday, Crozier said, mentioning the high number of pre-sold tickets already allotted to Georgia fans. Richt reiterated that point to media members in his post-game news conference.

The university said Monday that 10,400 of the 12,000 tickets allotted have already been accounted for, while tickets won't be available to the general public until Dec. 5.

In addition, Georgia checks in at No. 16 in the latest BCS rankings, while Ole Miss was not ranked. The Capital One generally selects the top-ranked SEC team not represented in a BCS game.

"I'm not sure that we have ever had an unranked team represent the SEC in the Capital One Bowl," Crozier said. "Note that Ole Miss is ranked in most other polls but I haven't seen a poll where they are ranked above UGA. Certainly, there will be a lively discussion among our selection committee as to who we will pick."

The Capital One Bowl could announce its selection early, as it did two years ago with Wisconsin. The bowl also released Wisconsin from consideration early last season. Crozier, however, said there was no mention of an early selection during Monday's meeting.

Should the Capital One Bowl select Ole Miss over Georgia, the Bulldogs would likely fall to the Outback Bowl or Cotton Bowl. The Outback Bowl has the first selection of SEC East teams after the Capital One makes its selection, while the Cotton Bowl has first pick of SEC West teams.

While the bowl committee may not make an early decision, Richt is already focusing on the bowl game, and he's asking his team to do the same.

"We're going to get an opportunity to play on national television one more time, let the country see us play," Richt said. "We want to make a good showing, have a strong finish and help our seniors have their last ballgame be a victory."

Georgia will hold nine practice sessions in Athens prior to the bowl game, beginning Thursday. The Bulldogs will practice again Saturday, with coaches spending much of this week's downtime recruiting.

The players, however, are using the time away from football to focus on academics and recuperate from a long season.

"We'll continue to stay focused, get back in the weight room, get stronger and get on the field, running and get in even better shape and take some time to repair yourself," linebacker Rennie Curran said. "You'll get in the film room to work on fundamentals and everything, but really it's about just getting your strength back to get ready for that final game and go out strong."

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