On Dec. 10, during the No. 8 Bulldogs' annual senior banquet, David Greene
was presented with a plaque commemorating his NCAA-record 42 wins. At
the time, he only had 41.
"Obviously, we were trying to be optimistic," Greene said,
didn't want to jinx it, either."
On Saturday in the Outback Bowl, Georgia topped No. 16 Wisconsin 24-21
to make Greene's trophy a reality.
"You can keep that plaque, now," Coach Mark Richt told his
as they walked off the field.
A near sellout crowd of 62,414 in Raymond James Stadium watched the
Bulldogs (10-2) build a 24-6 lead and then hold off a furious Badger
rally to notch their third straight season with 10 or more wins.
"Our season didn't finish like we wanted it to so we had to come out
and play for what we could, which was a 10-win season," junior safety
Thomas Davis said.
Georgia's senior class leaves with an overall record of 42-10, the
second-best stretch in school history.
The victory wasn't secured until freshman running back Thomas Brown
gained 11 yards on a fourth-and-one to allow Georgia to run out the
clock. Brown rushed for a game-high 111 yards, including 49 on the final
Defensive end David Pollack, Greene's childhood friend and college
roommate, appeared to have sealed the win with 5:08 left when he sacked
Wisconsin quarterback John Stocco and stripped the ball away as the pair
fell to the ground.
"It took a lot of keen eyesight by the officials to get that one
right," Richt said. "They could have very easily ruled it a
It was a big-play day for the Georgia defense, which had an Outback
Bowl record seven sacks and held the Big Ten's fourth-best rushing
offense to an Outback-low 1.7 yards per carry.
The Badgers had 230 yards of total offense, 133 of which came on five
plays in the second half.
"We had our chances in the second half," Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez
said. "Against a team like that, you better cash in."
After Pollack's fumble recovery, Georgia took possession at its own
16-yard line leading 24-13. However, on the third play of the drive,
Wisconsin linebacker Andy Crooks stepped in front of a screen pass
thrown by Greene and returned it 11 yards for a touchdown.
Richt indicated he and Greene shared responsibility for the play.
While Greene should have thrown the ball a little higher, Richt
acknowledged that the call and the sideline management should have been
better. Richt made the call because the Badgers had played a soft zone
in the same situation earlier in the game, and he thought they would
again. But this time the Badgers' blitzed.
Also, Wisconsin may have known what was coming, Richt said, because
the Bulldogs inserted Brown, their best receiving tailback, into the
game just before the play.
"I saw their defensive coordinator (saying) watch the screen when he
saw Thomas Brown," Richt said.
The Badgers' score and a successful 2-point conversion pulled them to
within three at 24-21 with 4:13 left in the game, but Georgia was able
to run out the clock with a 9-play, 54-yard drive. The Bulldogs passed
up a field goal attempt from Wisconsin's 15-yard line late in the drive
in order to hang onto the ball.
Offensive coordinator Neil Callaway made the call that led to Brown's
decisive run, Richt said.
"Coach Callaway stepped up and made the call and believed in it
to convince me," Richt said. "And it was the perfect call. It was
Georgia had 460 yards of total offense.
"I'm shocked we had that much," Richt said. "It felt like
Greene was 19 of 38 for 264 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw
two interceptions, matching his total from the entire regular season.
"It wasn't by any means my best performance," he said.
At least he gets to keep his plaque.