SEC football championship game notes: Georgia Bulldogs likely headed to Outback Bowl, matchup with Big Ten team

semerson@ledger-enquirer.comDecember 4, 2011 

ATLANTA -- Georgia officially will find out its bowl destination today. But all indications on Saturday were that Bulldog fans could start booking hotel rooms in Tampa, Fla.

It was being widely reported that the Capital One Bowl, which gets the first pick of SEC teams not in the BCS, was set to take South Carolina.

That basically would ensure that the Outback Bowl would take Georgia, because the Tampa-based bowl gets preference for an SEC East team, while the Cotton Bowl gets preference for a West team. Arkansas likely would head there.

Georgia last played in the Outback Bowl in 2004, when it beat Wisconsin. There’s a chance that could be the matchup again, with Michigan and Penn State other possibilities.

Tampa is the hometown of two key Georgia players: quarterback Aaron Murray and tight end Orson Charles.

“We definitely would’ve preferred Sugar Bowl,” Murray said. “But we’re excited no matter where we play.”

Crowell plays hurt

There had been considerable attention on whether Isaiah Crowell (Carver High) would play.

The freshman tailback did and ended up with the most carries for Georgia but the third-most yards.

“My ankle was hurting the whole game,” Crowell said. “I just wanted to suck it up, play for my team.”

Crowell (15 yards on 10 carries) limped off the field several times but kept returning to the game. Junior Carlton Thomas (28 yards on seven carries) got the start, but he didn’t do much, other than a 16-yard gain in the first quarter.

Ken Malcome got most of the carries as the game neared the end, finishing with a team-high 37 yards.

“It wasn’t until Ken Malcome started running the ball that we had a little bit more success,” coach Mark Richt said.

“He ran extremely hard. I was proud of him.”

Crowell has had a very star-crossed year.

Crowell merits consideration for SEC freshman of the year, but has also endured injuries and been suspended.

He was asked after Saturday’s game if he could sum up his year.

“I think I did all right,” he said. “I could’ve did better. I don’t know.”

Magnanimous, or not

Safety Bacarri Rambo was withholding too much praise for LSU, which many consider among the nation’s top teams of the last couple decades.

“They’re good. But they’re not the best team I’ve played since I’ve been in college,” said Rambo, a redshirt junior.

Rambo said one of Florida’s teams, when it had star receiver Percy Harvin, was the best team he had faced.

Local guys

LSU did a good job limiting the effectiveness of two former Carver High players.

Georgia’s outside linebacker, Jarvis Jones, managed just three tackles. He didn’t have a sack in the game. Jones entered the game with 13.5 sacks, one off the national lead of Illinois’ Whitney Mercilus.

Crowell, who had missed last week’s game against Georgia Tech and most of the win over Auburn after injuring his ankle, rushed for just 15 yards on 10 carries.

Mitchell takes blame

Receiver Malcolm Mitchell dropped a sure touchdown in the first quarter. The third-down pass went off his hands a few steps from the end zone. He was wide open.

“It was just a drop. I just wasn’t focused on the ball.”

It was a rare weak moment for Mitchell, who has had a sterling freshman season.

“I have no idea where it came from,” he said. “I just probably got a little excited. Big-time game. I’ve just gotta learn how to calm down, stay focused.”

Extra points

Junior Mike Gilliard, the team’s second-leading tackler this season, left in the second quarter with a right ankle injury and did not return. … The successful onsides kick in the first quarter was the first for Georgia since 2008.

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