The Bulldogs beat out Tennessee for a bid to the Capital One Bowl on Sunday, where they will play No. 12 Purdue.
A day earlier, they lost to LSU 34-13 in the Southeastern Conference championship game, a victory that propelled the Tigers to the Sugar Bowl, where they will meet Oklahoma.
The winner in New Orleans on Jan. 4 automatically captures the coaches’ title under the Bowl Championship Series format.
Tom Mickle, executive director of the Capital One Bowl, wouldn’t release the final tally, but he said the vote between Georgia and the Volunteers was “close.”
The Bulldogs beat Tennessee 41-14 in the regular season.
“The key to the decision by the selection committee was head-to-head competition,” Mickle said. “Georgia shouldn’t be penalized for making it to the championship game and losing to an opponent that’s going to play for the national championship.”
The Bulldogs, who dropped six spots in the AP poll, are in the Capital One Bowl for the first time since 1993. Tennessee settled for a trip to the Peach Bowl for the second straight year.
“From what I’ve heard, it’s the best bowl for a team,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “It’s the best bowl for coaches with family, and we’ve probably got about 35 kids on our staff.”
The uncertainly about where the Bulldogs were going came after their worst performance of the season. LSU finished with 293 yards rushing — including a championship game-record 201 yards by Justin Vincent — and outgained the Bulldogs 444-249.
The Tigers sprinted to a 17-0 lead in the first half, the biggest deficit Georgia had faced all season.
“We fought hard, but it wasn’t good enough to make it a closer game,” Richt said. “They dominated the entire game. When we did move the ball, they did a great job of stealing momentum back like great champions do.”
In the immediate aftermath, Richt wasn’t sure where Georgia might wind up playing.
“We didn’t have any certainty,” he said. “As I talked to the team after the game, I told them the season’s not over. It felt like the season was over, because our goal was to win the SEC.
“But we’ve got one more game, and whatever bowl gives us an invitation, we need to be thankful for that. I really didn’t want to speculate.”
Georgia hasn’t played Purdue since the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1, 2000, when the Bulldogs rallied from 25 points down to win 28-25 in overtime, the biggest comeback in bowl history.
The Boilermakers (9-3) return this year after narrowly beating No. 13 Iowa in a vote by scouts for the bowl.
“You hear about these other teams, but you don’t know how to compare them to anybody, because you never see them,” Georgia quarterback David Greene said. “They might have a different style of play than what we see in the SEC. I think it’s a good thing.