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Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl would honor Bulldog seniors

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl CEO Gary Stokan has no idea if he will be hosting 8th-ranked Georgia on New Year’s Day in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

But if that is indeed where the Bulldogs land, Stokan told UGASports Thursday that his bowl would be happy to help honor Georgia’s seniors. The class twice lost that opportunity at Sanford Stadium due to the postponement and ultimate cancellation of its scheduled regular-season finale with Vanderbilt.

“That is a great idea, and we would do that, for sure. We'd do that in our game if it’s Georgia,” Stokan said. “We’d do it for both teams. I think if the teams wanted to do it, we’d certainly do something special for those senior classes.”

Many projections have Georgia—ranked eighth in the latest College Football Playoff rankings—taking on presumed Group of 5 champion Cincinnati. Before it becomes a certainty, however, Saturday's games will sort out various conference championships. Then the Bulldogs' bowl destination can be pinpointed.

The CFP announces its four playoff teams Sunday at noon, with the matchups in the Orange Bowl, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, and Cotton Bowl at 2:30. This year’s semifinals will take place in the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl.

After the semifinal selections are made, the CFP will select the teams to take part in the Orange, Chick-fil-A Peach, Cotton and Fiesta Bowl.

As pertaining to Georgia, this is how it breaks down:

After the two semifinal games are announced, the committee will go to the Orange Bowl, which is contracted to take the highest-ranked ACC team against the highest ranked non-playoff team among the choices of Notre Dame, the SEC, or the Big Ten.

Games this weekend to watch include the ACC championship, where undefeated and No. 2 Notre Dame plays No. 3 Clemson in the ACC championship game; and No. 1 Alabama facing off with No. 7 Florida in the SEC title tilt.

Other meaningful tilts include No. 4 Ohio State against No. 14 Northwestern in the Big Ten championship, and No. 5 Texas A&M against Tennessee in the regular-season finale for both teams.

Each of those contests will play a role in where Georgia lands in the New Years' Six picture.

“The Orange Bowl is a contract bowl with the ACC. So, after the four teams in the Rose and Sugar are set, the committee will go to the Orange Bowl and see who it's going to select,” Stokan said. “It will have to take the highest-ranked ACC team that’s not in the playoffs, to play against the highest-ranked SEC or Big Ten team this year, since Notre Dame is in the ACC. Then, it will go back to the selection committee to select teams for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl, and I’m sure it will look at regionality as being part of the key factors to placing those at-large teams.”

Either the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl or the Fiesta Bowl will take this year’s Group of Five champion, which right now is No. 9 Cincinnati. The Bearcats play in Saturday’s AAC championship game against No. 23 Tulsa.

If Tulsa wins, No. 12 Coastal Carolina would have the opportunity, in the event of a victory over No. 19 Louisiana in the Sunbelt title game. Both would be possible opponents for Georgia, should the Bulldogs also be placed in the game.

Georgia was supposed to open the season at Mercedes-Benz Stadium against Virginia before the game was cancelled due to Covid-19.

“I find it probably appropriate in a Covid-19, 2020 year, we were going to start the season with our Chick-fil-A kickoff game, and it was cancelled—but to start 2021 on Jan. 1, we would have the opportunity to host Georgia,” Stokan said. “It would be a fitting way to start the 2021 year, and we’d be excited, obviously. We think the world of Kirby Smart and Greg McGarity; it would be nice in some way to honor Greg McGarity and certainly the Georgia program. What it means to TV viewership is huge. That is a national brand that has played in the CFP, I think every year, since the CFP has been around.”

NOTE: Stokan said that capacity at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl will be 25 percent, or approximately 18,000 tickets. The stadium normally seats 71,000.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl CEO Gary Stokan said his game would honor Georgia's seniors.
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl CEO Gary Stokan said his game would honor Georgia's seniors. (USA Today)