Since Florida State (9-4) was announced as Georgia's opponent in the Jan. 1 bowl game, there has been some talk that fans and players could be disappointed that No. 4 Georgia (12-1) did not draw a team with a better record.
Then came Tuesday's surprise news that Florida State starting quarterback Chris Rix is academically ineligible for the bowl because he slept through a final exam.
Without Rix, the Seminoles are left with a talented by unproven sophomore, Fabian Walker, who has thrown only eight passes and appeared in only three games in his career.
Richt admitted Florida State "right now is concerned a little bit with their quarterback situation, but other than that they're still a team that beat Florida.''
Added Richt: "They beat a team handily that we could not beat. ... They are very capable of whipping us. I know that.''
Georgia's 20-13 loss to Florida on Nov. 2 was its only setback of the season. Richt also noted that Florida State almost upset Miami, the team that has the spot Georgia hoped to land in the Fiesta Bowl national championship game against Ohio State.
Said Richt, resorting to unusually strong words to emphasize his respect for Florida State: "It's going to take everything we have just to stay on the field with them.''
Richt said he is especially concerned about his secondary's matchup with Florida State's physical receivers. Junior Abquan Boldin (6-2, 226) leads the Seminoles with 62 receptions for 977 yards and 12 touchdowns.
"(Boldin) is a guy I haven't seen anybody able to cover,'' Richt said. Talman Gardner (6-2, 205) has 37 catches for 619 yards and eight touchdowns.
Each of the Seminoles' top four backup receivers are 6-0 or taller. "All the receivers are big and tall,'' Richt said. "I don't know how we'll match up with that.''
Georgia began its bowl practice schedule Tuesday and is practicing twice a day through Friday. After a Saturday morning session, the team will leave for a Christmas break and then reconvene in New Orleans on Dec. 26.
While Georgia's bowl trip is a reward for its first Southeastern Conference championship in 20 years, Florida State won its 10th Atlantic Coast Conference title in the last 11 years and is appearing in its 21st consecutive bowl.
For 14 straight years - from 1987-2000 - Florida State finished in the top five in the final national rankings.
Richt says Florida State's tradition outweighs its four 2002 losses in how the program is viewed. "When I got here, in my opinion, our players kind of looked up to Florida State,'' Richt said. "They're the best. Georgia wants to be where those guys have been. We have all the respect in the world for them.''
Said quarterback David Greene: "Florida State is a team that for the last 10 years has really dominated the game. We're excited about it. They put a whipping on Florida and had a chance to beat Miami.''
NOTES: Georgia's list of verbal commitments grew to 21 Wednesday as two highly rated skill players - receiver Sean Bailey of Milton High and running back/defensive back Thomas Flowers of Pebblebrook High said they will sign with the Bulldogs.
Bailey (6-1, 175) is rated as one of the nation's top receivers by most recruiting services. The son of former Atlanta Falcons receiver Stacey Bailey, he picked Georgia over Florida State and made his commitment official with an announcement Wednesday night on Fox Sports South's Countdown to Signing Day.
Flowers (5-10, 183) ranks as the 46th best running back in the nation by TheInsiders.com, but he will play cornerback at Georgia. As a two-way player this season, he scored 19 touchdowns and recorded 46 tackles.