ATHENS, Ga. -- There is, in fact, a trophy bestowed to the annual winner of the Georgia-Georgia Tech game. And on Tuesday the Governor’s Cup, which stands about three feet, was sitting informally on a desk in the office of Georgia associate athletic director Claude Felton.
To be fair, Felton said the trophy was only moved out of the trophy case this week in preparation for being awarded Saturday. But it’s a safe bet that not many people ever noticed the Cup when it’s in the case.
That tends to happen when a rivalry is as one-sided as this one has been. Georgia has won eight of the past nine, and owns a 60-37-5 record in the series.
But this year’s game holds two major bits of significance for the Bulldogs:
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They need the win to become bowl eligible.
The struggling Bulldogs would love to at least finish the season on a high note.
“It’s great to have a game like this at the end of the season -- particularly this season,” coach Mark Richt said.
The game was important enough to the players that several of them made the trek to Atlanta last Saturday to watch the Yellow Jackets play Duke. The contingent numbered about eight players, including quarterback Aaron Murray, receivers Kris Durham and Tavarres King and linebacker Christian Robinson.
Murray said the Georgia Tech fans recognized him, but were “pretty cool” to him. Richt said he was happy to hear about the excursion.
“There are no rules against it, and when I found out about it, I thought it was a good idea,” Richt said. “I’m glad they cared enough to do it.”
The Governor’s Cup “tradition” began in 1995. That also happened to be the last year Georgia needed to beat Georgia Tech in order to become bowl eligible. The Bulldogs won that game, 18-17.
“It’s a huge game for us, finishing off the season,” fullback Shaun Chapas said. “We wanna finish off strong, and finish off with a win, and become bowl eligible. I’ve been to a bowl every year since I’ve been here, so I wanna keep that going.”
The Bulldogs are likely only playing for the right to play in lower-tier bowls like the Liberty, Music City or BBVA Compass. Richt, in his 10 years at the helm, has taken his teams to much bigger bowls.
But he said getting to a bowl still had benefits.
“I’ve never been to a bad bowl,” Richt said. “You get a chance to go compete in another college game. You get to practice along the way, which I don’t know that the players are all that excited about that part of it, but as a coach you like to get more practice opportunities in.”
Senior linebacker Akeem Dent saw another motivation for going to a bowl: Not being the first senior class in 14 years to miss out on one.
“Of course we don’t want to be that class and we don’t want to be remembered as that class (that didn’t make a bowl),” Dent said. “It’s really important to get that next win to get to the bowl game.”