"So that's what everybody's talking about, huh?" Mark Richt said.
What else? Thanks to Saturday's 41-14 whipping of Tennessee in
Knoxville, Tenn., the Bulldogs moved to No. 4 in the Associated Press
Top 25. Georgia is the highest ranked one-loss team in the country and
back on the fringe of the national championship picture.
"I'm sure where we're ranked will get (the players) excited about
possibilities down the road," Richt acknowledged. "We're excited
where we are right now, but the thing that is the most important to us
is winning the (SEC) East. That's the only thing we can really control."
Georgia (5-1, 3-1 SEC) now has a one-game lead over Tennessee and
Florida in the Eastern Division. The Volunteers fell to No. 21 after the
loss. The Bulldogs could lose one more league game, provided its not to
the Gators, and still be guaranteed the division title. If they don't
lose any more games, they could find themselves playing in the Sugar
Bowl for the second year in a row. This year, the Sugar Bowl will
determine the BCS national champion.
Two of the teams ranked ahead of Georgia -- No. 2 Miami and No. 3
Virginia Tech -- play in Blacksburg, Va., on Nov. 1 so one of them
presumably would fall behind a Georgia team that won the remainder of
its games. After that, the Bulldogs would need some help to break into
the BCS top two. The first BCS rankings will be released on Oct. 20.
All that is too much for Richt and Georgia to think about, though,
Richt said. His toughest job the next two weeks will be keeping his team
focused on 1-6 Vanderbilt and UAB. The Bulldogs play the Commodores at 2
p.m. Saturday in Nashville, Tenn.
"I've seen too many bad things happen when you look too far down
road," Richt said. "I think earlier in the year we looked too far
the road and talked about our long-term goals rather than our short-term
Richt was perfectly willing to talk about the win over the Volunteers,
which he said stood alongside last year's SEC title game and Georgia Tech game as the best the Bulldogs have played in his two-plus years of
coaching. It was the second-most points Georgia had ever scored against
"This Tennessee game was a turning point for our season," he
"One of the Tennessee players said it was do-or-die, and it just about
was. It just means a lot because we are finding a way to win the big
games and we're gaining confidence in or ability to win any game we
Keeping the Bulldogs motivated and focused on each game should be easy
now that there's so much riding on each game, Richt said.
"This kind of game gets guys excited," he said. "It would
have been a
lot tougher to get them motivated if we had lost this game. It's very
difficult to motivate once your primary goals are gone. Right now the
goals we've set for ourselves are still very much alive."
"Now the excitement ought to be at all-time high for this
2nd Straight Sugar Bowl is a possibility
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