No Lost Luster for LSU

ATHENS -- The national spotlight on Saturday's Georgia-LSU game has faded some, but you couldn't tell it from the No. 3 Bulldogs' preparations.

"I'm not saying we don't prepare hard for everybody," senior linebacker Arnold Harrison said. "I'm just saying your body reacts differently when it comes to playing great teams."

Georgia (3-0, 1-0 SEC) plays the No. 13 Tigers (3-1, 1-1 SEC) at 3:30 p.m. in Sanford Stadium. LSU beat the Bulldogs twice last year on the way to the BCS national championship.

"Everybody knows this is the biggest game we've played this season," defensive tackle Kedric Golston said. "I think everybody is a little more focused. I think everybody is going to work a little harder this week."

It's the kind of freshman running back Danny Ware longed to play while he spent a year of academic exile at Hargrave Military Academy.

"This is the game where everybody looks at you and can tell what kind of guy you are," Ware said. "I wanted to be here to see how I measured up."

The game drew the marquee afternoon time slot on CBS, but other media outlets are focusing elsewhere on what will be big day in the SEC. ESPN's College GameDay crew, a status symbol for big games around the country, will be in Knoxville, Tenn., covering the only game between unbeaten SEC teams as Top 10 Tennessee (3-0) and Auburn (4-0) battle. It will be GameDay's seventh trip to Neyland Stadium, while it has visited Athens just once, for the 1998 Georgia-Tennessee game.

Florida and Arkansas also play (12 p.m., CBS) in a critical conference game.

"I guess Tennessee-Auburn is getting more attention," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "If (Georgia and LSU) both were undefeated going into this game, I think the nation would be focused on this game a little more. That could be good or bad."

Almost 500 members of the media will be on hand to cover the game, but several members of the national media backed out after the Tigers lost two weeks ago, said Claude Felton, Georgia's sports information director.

A ticket for the game is hard, but not impossible, to find. Tim Cearley, Georgia's interim ticket director, has fielded calls all week looking for passes. Former Bulldog and current Pittsburgh Steeler Verron Haynes called Wednesday but came away empty.

"I'm sure he'll find a way in, but we don't have any tickets," Cearley said.

The game was the third-most requested prior to the season, behind only next week's Tennessee game and the Georgia Tech game. As of Wednesday afternoon, fans could buy two tickets on E-Bay for $187.50, which is far less than some recent games in Athens. Two sets of tickets set with a minimum bid of at least $300 hadn't generated a single bid.

Until LSU lost 10-9 to Auburn, it looked like Saturday's game would be the first time two Top 5 teams had played in Sanford Stadium since No. 3 Auburn played No. 4 Georgia in 1983, but there is still plenty of historical significance.

It will be the first time since 1946 that Georgia has been ranked this highly while hosting another ranked opponent, and it will be the first time since 1982 the Bulldogs have played a defending national champion at home. That year it was the Clemson Tigers and the Bulldogs won 13-7 in the first night game ever played in Sanford Stadium.

Although LSU handed the Bulldogs their most thorough defeat in the last four seasons last year, most of Georgia's players have downplayed the revenge factor.

"Of course we want to beat them," center Russ Tanner said, "not to knock them out of the national championship picture but to get us into it."

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