The wait for an opponent is over for the Wisconsin football team. Outback Bowl officials announced Tuesday that the Georgia Bulldogs have been invited to play against the Badgers in the New Year’s Day bowl.

The matchup of the two 9-2 squads will be only the second meeting between the two schools. The only other time Wisconsin and Georgia have met on the gridiron was in the 1998 Outback Bowl, a game won by Georgia, 33-6.

The Bulldogs are currently ranked No. 7 in the AP Poll and finished the regular season behind second place Tennessee in the SEC’s East division.

“We are just thrilled to have coach [Mark] Richt and an outstanding Georgia Bulldog team, a 9-2, seventh ranked team in our game this year,” said Jim McVay, the CEO and President of the Outback Bowl. “To be able to match-up 9-2 power-houses, this is going to be a classic match-up.”

Richt said that his team was happy to have the chance to compete with UW in the Outback Bowl.

“I can promise you we’re thrilled about [playing in the Outback Bowl],” he said. “[Wisconsin] is a tremendous football team and it wasn’t long ago that they were 9-0 and getting ready to still vie for the national championship game; so we know its going to be a great match-up.”

The game will feature two of the best defensive players in the country as Wisconsin’s Erasmus James and Georgia’s David Pollack will lead the teams into battle. The two players will be going head-to-head for nearly every national defensive award that they are eligible for and now will be competing in the same game.

“They are both big time defensive ends,” Richt said. “We’ll need to find a way to block [James].”

The Badgers and Bulldogs play January 1, 2005 in Tampa Bay. The game will kick-off at 10:00 am CST.

White earns AFCA award: Brian White, offensive coordinator and running backs coach for the Wisconsin football team, has been named NCAA Division I-A Assistant Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association, the organization announced Tuesday.

One assistant coach in each of college football’s five different levels was selected for their dedication to their teams and communities. Each year, staff representatives from NCAA and NAIA football-playing schools are asked to nominate an assistant for consideration. Those nominations are narrowed down to three finalists at each level and the AFCA Public Relations Committee selects a winner.

The criteria for the award are not limited to on-field coaching ability and the success of the team and players that these assistant coaches have worked with. Service to the community (through charitable work and other volunteer activities), participation in AFCA activities and events, participation in other professional organizations and impact on student athletes are all taken into account in the selection process.

The 2004 honorees are: Division I-A — Brian White, offensive coordinator & running backs coach, University of Wisconsin; Division I-AA — Tony Pierce, defensive coordinator, Alabama State University; Division II — Brian Hughes, offensive coordinator, Long Island University, C.W. Post; Division III — Keith Emery, defensive coordinator & linebackers coach, Johns Hopkins University; and NAIA — Nick Howlett, offensive coordinator & quarterbacks coach, Carroll College (Mont.).

“Once again, five outstanding assistant coaches have been selected for their dedication, not only to their teams, but to their communities,” said Executive Director Grant Teaff. “Often times, the head coach receives much of the credit for his team’s success. Any head coach is only as good as his assistants. Much of an assistant coach’s work is done behind the scenes. It is our pleasure to bring it to the forefront.”