Outback Bowl officials extended an invitation to Georgia Tuesday, which the Bulldogs accepted one week after Wisconsin received and accepted its invitation. The teams have played just once before, when Georgia trounced the Badgers 33-6 in the 1998 Outback Bowl, at the conclusion of the 1997 season.
"The Georgia Bulldogs have had an outstanding season and we welcome them to the Tampa Bay area," said Bernie O'Brien, the Outback Bowl's team selection chairman, in a press release.
"I'm really happy for our team and especially our seniors," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "We have the opportunity to play on New Year's Day, to play a quality opponent in Wisconsin, to finish the season with 10 wins and in the top 10 in the final rankings."
Each team will arrive in Tampa having flirted with national championship hopes on its way to a 9-2 regular season. Georgia, ranked No. 3 in the preseason, has lost only to No. 15 Tennessee and at No. 3 Auburn this season. Wisconsin rose to No. 4 after winning its first nine games but finished the regular season with losses at Michigan State and at No. 12 Iowa.
"This will be an incredible match-up," Outback Bowl Chairman Chuck Johnson said. "To have the winningest quarterback in SEC history, one of the top runners in Big Ten history and two of the very best defensive players in the country is more than we could have dreamed of before the season."
Johnson was referring to Georgia quarterback David Greene, Wisconsin tailback Anthony Davis, UGA defensive end David Pollack and UW defensive end Erasmus James. Pollack and James are each finalists for the Lombardi (lineman or linebacker), Hendricks (defensive end), Bednarik and Nagurksi (defensive player) postseason honors.
"I know our team will be committed to the preparation necessary to play what I know is a very tough Wisconsin team which has a very rich football tradition and an established national reputation," Richt said. "I also want to encourage our fans to give us the same support in this game that they have demonstrated all year long. They have been, and are, an essential part of whatever success we are able to achieve."
Wisconsin and Georgia will each receive a minimum $2.75 million payout from the Outback Bowl.