The Georgia Bulldogs are heading to the Liberty Bowl down a key member, as the team’s mascot, Uga VIII, will miss the contest due to illness.

Fear not, Dawg Nation, as the team will be taking along Russ, the white English bulldog who served as the interim mascot following the death of Uga VII. Russ was on the sidelines for the final two games of the 2009 season — including Georgia’s victory over Texas A&M in last season’s Independence Bowl in Shreveport — and the first six contests earlier this fall.

Uga VIII, a 15-month-old who lives with Frank W. “Sonny” Seiler and his family of Savannah, Ga., took over as the team’s mascot on Oct. 16 against Vanderbilt.

The University announced Thursday that the mascot is sidelined with a “gastro-intestinal condition.”