10/18/2010 at 06:18 PM EDT
The University of Georgia's newest "Dawg" had his day on Saturday. Uga VIII, the latest in a long line of English bulldogs
who have served as the school's official mascot
, made his debut before Georgia's Homecoming game against Vanderbilt at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga.
During a ceremonial "Passing of the Collar," interim mascot Russ – a 6-year-old who had served an eight-game tenure following Uga VII's sudden death last November – took his last bow and then appeared to plant a goodbye kiss on his consigliere. As Georgia president Michael Adams slipped the red spiked collar onto the barrel-chested Uga VIII (left), fans gave the 13-month-old, 55-lb. pup a rousing welcome, chanting "Bruuuce." (His registered name is Big Bad Bruce.) Bruce ... er, Uga VIII's reign got off to a good start – Georgia routed Vanderbilt 43-0.