Sunday, he got his wish, when the Chick-fil-Bowl officially put together the matchup expected for the last week– the unranked Bulldogs against No. 14 Virginia Tech.
“We know we’re going to have our hands more than full,” Richt said. “I’m sure we’re going to be an underdog in this game, and hopefully if we can find a way to win, it’ll get us back in the top 20.”
The Bulldogs and Hokies will meet Dec. 30 at 8 p.m. in the Georgia Dome, and the game, known for the last 38 years as the Peach Bowl, will be televised by ESPN. It will be Georgia’s first appearance in the game since 1998, when it beat Virginia 35-33.
The two teams, who each will receive a $2.8 million payout from the bowl game (not all of which is retained by the school), haven’t met since Tech was known as VPI. Georgia won the first meeting, 40-0 in 1931, and Tech rebounded to win the 1932 game 7-6.
Georgia (8-4, 4-4 SEC) hasn’t been ranked since an Oct. 14 loss to Vanderbilt knocked them out of the poll. The last time the Bulldogs finished a season unranked was 1996. Richt was hoping a handful of upsets this weekend would let his team slip back into the Associated Press Top 25, but Georgia remained the first team out of the rankings.
“I think if we can get this one more game against a ranked opponent, then I really believe we’d finish in the Top 25 and maybe even in the top 20,” he said. “That would mean an awful lot to our team and an awful lot to our seniors. They’ve done an awful lot to battle back for some national notoriety and some respect.”
The Hokies (10-2, 6-2 ACC) won six straight games to end the regular season. They are led by a defense that is ranked No. 1 in the country in total defense and scoring defense, allowing 221 yards and 9.3 points per game. Virginia Tech has given up two touchdowns since Oct. 12.
Offensively, the Hokies are led by sophomore running back Branden Ore, who is averaging 99.5 yards per game and 5 yards per carry. However, Ore sat out his team’s 17-0 win over Virginia last week due to an ankle injury, and he could still be gimpy by the time the bowl game arrives.
Sophomore quarterback Sean Glennon has come back from a slow start and thrown for 2,097 yards, 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions while completing 57 percent of his passes.
Virginia Tech’s only two losses came early in the season, a 38-27 loss to Georgia Tech on Sept. 30 and a 22-3 loss to Boston College on Oct. 12. The Hokies closed the year by beating Southern Miss, Clemson, Miami, Kent State, eventual ACC champion Wake Forest and Virginia.
Georgia has two ties to the Hokie program. Running backs coach Tony Ball was an assistant in Blacksburg, Va., for eight seasons before coming to Athens this year, and assistant head strength coach Keith Gray was a linebacker at Virginia Tech, where he lettered as a senior in 1994.
Virginia Tech will be making its third appearance in this game and first since 1986. The Hokies already have sold almost 19,000 tickets to the game.
“We’re going to be do our best to make it a great bowl game,” said Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, who’s in his 19th season at the school. “We’ll bring a lot of excited folks with us.”