ORLANDO - Let's make the first sentence I write in 2013 be a happy one: It's a warm and (almost) sunny day here on game day, so Georgia and Nebraska should be starting out the year - and finishing up the season - in very comfortable weather.
This is my first foray into the Florida Citrust Bowl, and in a way I like the retro, intimate feel. But it's also why I'm still not sure why the Capital One Bowl gets first priority among non-BCS bowls for the SEC. This place is smaller and inferior to Jerry World (where they hold the Cotton Bowl), or Raymond James Stadium in Tampa (where they hold the Outback Bowl), or even the Georgia Dome (where they held a great Chick-fil-A Bowl last night).
In fact, this feels more like the Liberty Bowl than the Outback Bowl. But the Capital One Bowl folks are trying their best:
In two corners of the stadium, there are two blown-up photos of David Pollack sacking a Vanderbilt player. Pollack is calling the game for ABC, so he'll probably enjoy looking at that during some down moments.
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The end zones are painted red (Nebraska's side) and black (Georgia's.) That's because they can't paint both end zones red. There is some talk of Georgia coming out in black uniforms. I've heard nothing to indicate that, but that's not the kind of thing they'd spring until just before kickoff, most likely. Georgia, which is slated to wear white, would need Nebraska's permission.
Prior to their photo-up on Monday, Mark Richt pulled Bo Pelini aside to ask something. I couldn't overhear the conversation, but it had something to do with logistics. Richt has several times talked about the 37-minute wait in between final warmups and the kickoff, so he may have been trying to get Pelini's permission to, say, visit Disney World in the meantime.
(Update: Georgia is wearing white jerseys in warmups.)
Hopefully Georgia players got some sleep last night, though it would be understandable if they didn't: The team hotel is across the street from Sea World, which did a long and loud fireworks show. The midnight crescendo sounded like shock and awe in Baghdad at the start of the Gulf War. As I watched the show from the street, with my lovely wife and several lovely colleagues, I could see more than a few Bulldog players on their balconies, watching it too.
Then again, I doubt anyone was going to get to sleep before midnight anyway.
Tough break for senior Abry Jones, whose ankle hasn't healed enough for him to play today. Jones is not dressed out.
Jones had long aimed to return to play in this game, and practiced when the team arrived in Orlando. But in the days leading up to the game, the coaches had expressed increasing skepticism over how much he'd be able to play.
The thought had been that Jones would be a game-time decision. But apparently it didn't even get that far, as Jones is hanging out with freshman nose tackle John Taylor, who is redshirting.
The crowd is starting to fill in decently. The lower sections may end up being full, except in the corners. The upper sections are less likely. And if you are in the upper section and are sitting next to a pregnant woman, that very likely is my wife. So be nice to her.
Attendance at bowls is down across the nation, so when this game isn't a sellout, don't blame it just on the two schools. But as we've said before, there was a reason the Capital One Bowl originally wanted Texas A&M.
I'm sure the TV ratings will be good.
For the first time this season, Hutson Mason was not getting reps with the main group of quarterbacks. The redshirt is officially on.
Normally, Mason took reps right after Aaron Murray, and was then followed by either Parker Welch or Christian LeMay. But today, while Mason is in uniform, it's Murray followed by Welch and LeMay.
The big question now is whether Mason will be getting second-team reps in spring practice ... or first team. It all depends on Mr. Murray.