As the Georgia Bulldogs get set to open their 2012 college football season against SUNY-Buffalo, the team will be cheered on by its new permanent official mascot, Uga IX.

Russ, an 8-year-old English bulldog, had the interim tag taken off his title by the University of Georgia and was promoted to be the school's ninth official mascot, dubbed Uga IX.

Greg McGarity, athletic director for the University of Georgia, called the rise of Russ a "battlefield promotion" in a statement released Thursday.

"Like many great and memorable Bulldogs, Russ has earned the opportunity to serve in this capacity," UGA president Dr. Michael F. Adams said in the statement. "I am confident that he will represent the Bulldog Nation very well and continue the grand tradition of Ugas."

The university dubs its official mascot Uga as shorthand for the college's name. Russ takes over as the school's official mascot for his half-brother, Uga VIII, who died in February 2011 of heart problems.

Russ held the job on an interim basis for 23 games, with the Bulldogs going 14-9 with the canine as their mascot. With the English bulldog cheering them on, the university's football team captured the SEC's Eastern Division crown in 2011.

McGarity said the English bulldog "has endeared himself to the Georgia people over the last three years.

"His dedication to duty when called upon has been exemplary and it's fitting that he takes his place in the official line of Georgia mascots," the athletic director said.

Georgia's football team opens up their college 2012 football season at 12 p.m. Saturday against SUNY-Buffalo at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga. The Bulldogs are heavily favored, with pegging Georgia as 37 ½-point favorites.

An official ceremony enshrining Russ as Uga IX is to be held Sept. 15 at Sanford Stadium, before the Georgia-Florida Atlantic game at 7:30 p.m. Georgia fans can tune in to the ceremony on CSS.

All of Georgia's Ugas have been owned by the Seiler family, which has provided the university with the beloved mascots for 56 years, the university said.