Georgia, last year's national champion, will receive its second straight Sugar Bowl bid Saturday despite lobbying by Alabama Coach Bear Bryant to get his Crimson Tide into the game as the Southeastern Conference representative.
Georgia (9-1) has clinched at least a tie for the SEC title with a 6-0 conference record. If Alabama (8-1-1) beats Auburn on Nov. 28, it will tie for the conference title.
In the event of a tie between teams that do not play each other, the 15-man Sugar Bowl committee chooses the SEC representative. Reportedly, a majority of the committee wants Georgia -- which likely will be ranked No. 3 in this week's polls to Alabama's No. 4 -- largely because it has tailback Herschel Walker, the probable Heisman Trophy runner-up.
Bryant had hoped to bring a team to the Sugar Bowl for the 10th time, especially after his Crimson Tide's 31-16 victory over fifth-ranked Penn State on Saturday. The SEC representative's opponent New Year's night probably will be top-ranked Pittsburgh.
Georgia, which won the national championship a year ago by defeating Notre Dame, 17-10, in the Sugar Bowl, clinched at least a tie for the SEC title Saturday by defeating Auburn, 24-13. The Bulldogs end their regular season against Georgia Tech, a nonleague foe, on Dec. 5.
Mickey Holmes, executive director of the Sugar Bowl, confirmed that a decision had been made and said an announcement would be made Saturday, the day bowl bids can be officially tendered. "We have decided on our procedures for Saturday and will go accordingly," Holmes said. "The whole thing just fell together this morning."
In other developments, the Cotton Bowl committee will meet this morning to decide whether to pick Alabama or Southern California to play the Southwest Conference host team, expected to be Texas.
Meanwhile, in Birmingham, Ala., Bob Lochamy, executive director of the Hall of Fame bowl, said that contrary to other reports, Navy is not assured of a berth in that bowl against Mississippi State.
"Our first four or five teams do not include Navy at this point," he said. He indicated that the bowl would like a second- or third-place finisher in the Big Ten or the runner-up in the Big Eight.
One bowl source said last night that there are outside possibilities that Navy could end up as Southern Mississippi's opponent in the Tangerine Bowl or as host school in the Garden State Bowl for the second straight year.
The Orange Bowl is expected to choose No. 2 Clemson as the opponent for Big Eight champion Nebraska.
Of the minor bowls, the Gator reached an agreement with North Carolina to face Arkansas, unless Texas loses, which would make the Razorbacks the Cotton Bowl host, in which case Texas or a Big Ten team would be offered a Gator bid.
Oklahoma can have a Sun Bowl bid for the asking but may not take it if it loses to Nebraska Saturday. That would put the Sooners in the position of accepting a bowl bid with a 5-5-1 record.
The Liberty Bowl will take Ohio State if the Buckeyes don't land in the Rose Bowl, and would love to match them with 5-4 Notre Dame if the Irish beat Penn State Saturday. Notre Dame generally shuns minor bowls, but to play someone such as Ohio State it might make an exception, a source at the school said.
As for reports that the Irish might be offered a Tangerine Bowl bid, a Notre Dame official said, "I don't even know where it is." The Tangerine is expected to offer one berth to Southern Mississippi, which is 8-0-1 with wins over Mississippi State and Florida State and a tie with Alabama.
The other bid might go to Brig-ham Young if it doesn't win the WAC title and go to the Holiday Bowl.
The Peach Bowl reportedly has committed itself to West Virginia and the Florida-Florida State winner Nov. 28. The Garden State bowl is considering Hawaii, which certainly would make for an interesting postseason reward: traveling to East Rutherford, N.J.