ATHENS, Ga. — Chris Burnette was feeling Minnesota.
Or maybe a bowl matchup with the Wolverines or Hawkeyes.
Georgia-Nebraska in the Gator Bowl a year after the Bulldogs beat the Cornhuskers in the Capital One Bowl? Not so much.
“I was kind of like the other guys,” the Georgia senior offensive lineman said. “I did want to play Michigan or Iowa or Minnesota, just a team that you never get a shot to play. At the same time, I wasn’t disappointed. I’m just glad we get to play another football game.”
Georgia players didn’t do much complaining Monday about another go-round with Nebraska.
The New Year’s Day game in Jacksonville doesn’t have quite the juice a Georgia-Miami game in the Chick-fil-A Bowl would have had or another fresher pairing.
“I heard there was a chance we could play the alma mater,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said of Miami, where he was a backup quarterback. “This will be great because Nebraska is the team I grew up admiring. That was my team as a kid (in Omaha, Neb.).”
The Chick-Fil-A went with Texas A&M-Duke in the Atlanta bowl and the Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe, Ariz., grabbed Michigan, which Georgia hasn’t played since 1965, before the Gator Bowl could.
Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason, preparing for his second college start in place of injured Aaron Murray, has already broken down “several,” Nebraska games.
“One thing I noticed is they were a few, one drive, one play here, from being 9-3 or being in a bigger bowl or playing in their conference championship just like us,” Mason said. “It’s going to be a challenge.”
“I’m excited to play any game,” junior receiver Chris Conley said. “I think the opportunity that we have to play this team is going to help our younger guys. ... It’s an offense that can score and a defense that’s going to run fast and hit you hard.”
The Cornhuskers could have one edge over Georgia. Extra motivation after losing last year’s game to the Bulldogs 45-31.
“They’re going to be coming with a chip on their shoulder,” Mason said. “I’m sure they don’t care that they’re playing us again. I’m sure they’re pumped they’re going to be playing us again. We better be ready or they’re going to embarrass us.”