Georgia first to arrive for TaxSlayer Bowl

By Steve Patrick - News4Jax digital managing editor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Bulldogs arrived Sunday at their headquarters for the week -- the Sawgrass Marriott -- and got right to work: boarding buses for a previously unannounced evening practice. Georgia plans to be back on the field Monday morning for a practice at the University of North Florida.

That afternoon, Penn State will arrive at Jacksonville International Airport and is expected to have their first Florida practice Tuesday morning at Fernandina Beach High School.

With a head start and a history playing at EverBank Field, the Bulldogs may feel like a home team. For Georgia's fifth-year seniors who have been on the roster starting in 2011, the Bulldogs will have played seven Jacksonville games -- five against Florida the annual neutral-field rivalry. The Bulldogs have lost the last three games in the city, including a 24-19 loss to Nebraska in the TaxSlayer Bowl two years ago.

"Jacksonville's our second home it seems like," Bulldogs senior defensive end Josh Dawson said told the Athens Banner-Herald. "Hopefully that can be an advantage to us."

"I'm really looking forward to finishing in that stadium with a win," senior long snapper Nathan Theus told the newspaper. " I have a few bitter tastes about that stadium here the past few years. Definitely want to go out with a win, and I'm excited about the opportunity."

The Bulldogs finished the season with four straight wins and are hoping to win a 10th game Saturday in Jacksonville. The Nittany Lions are coming off a three-game losing streak. The oddsmakers are giving Georgia a 6½-point victory.

Before they meet on the field, the teams will have a busy week, with fishing trips, golf outings and a visit to Mayport Naval Station. 

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