Dawgs still focused on Cats... then Auburn

ATHENS — Now that Florida has been dismissed — for the first time in seven seasons and the second in 15, no less — Georgia can begin looking ahead.

Not that it will. On Sunday, Coach Mark Richt remained fully focused on the No. 8 Bulldogs' 31-24 win over the Gators and this week's game against hapless Kentucky.

Richt didn't accompany his team back to Athens on Saturday night, so he couldn't say if the players were greeted by any well-wishers, but he heard his share of thanks Sunday morning.

"Everybody was excited," he said. "I actually was out grocery shopping this morning. Kathryn sent me out grocery shopping. There were probably more, ‘Thank yous' than there were, ‘Good games.' There was a lot of relief for a lot of people."

Georgia (7-1, 5-1 SEC) takes on Kentucky (1-7, 0-5) at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. The game will be telecast by Jefferson-Pilot.

The Wildcats lost 22-7 to Mississippi State on Saturday. Their only win this year came over Indiana in the second week of the season, and they are last in the nation in total offense, averaging just 259.3 yards per game.

That's probably one of the reasons the Bulldogs expect to keep safety Thomas Davis on the bench this week. Davis sprained his right ankle and his right knee against the Gators and missed the entire second half. He is doubtful for the Kentucky game.

"It's not a serious situation," Richt said. "We feel certain he'll be back for Auburn."

It's that Auburn game in two weeks that will make or break the Bulldogs' season. Georgia's chances of making the SEC Championship Game all but vanished on Saturday when Tennessee beat South Carolina. The Volunteers need only to beat Kentucky and Vanderbilt to guarantee a spot in the title game, and they haven't lost to either of those teams since 1984.

But Georgia doesn't necessarily need Tennessee to lose to finish its season in a big way. The Bulldogs moved from No. 10 to No. 8 this week in the Associated Press poll. They jumped all the way to No. 5 in the coaches poll, where they are the highest-ranked, one-loss team in the country. Two one-loss teams, Texas and California, are ranked higher in the AP poll.

Georgia is ninth in the BCS standings and would be guaranteed a BCS bowl bid if it finishes in the top six of the rankings. The Bulldogs could move up two spaces when the rankings are released today since Miami and Florida State both lost this week. A win over Auburn, which is currently ranked No. 3, in two weeks in Jordan-Hare Stadium would vault them even higher in the rankings.

"Ever since we lost to Tennessee, we've been saying, ‘Let's just play this (week's) game the best we can and see how this thing plays out,'" Richt said. "We at least need to be in position for anything good that might happen. If we look ahead, we're just going to be embarrassed."

In 2001, Nebraska played for the national title despite not playing in the Big 12 conference championship game. The year before that, Florida State played for it all instead of Miami even though the Hurricanes had beaten the Seminoles in the regular season.

Reminders of those instances might work their way into a pre-game prep talk for the Bulldogs, but they are not a serious motivational tool, Richt said.

"We talked about (the national picture) a little before the Florida game, but we don't talk about it much," he said. "Maybe the night before I might say something to them just to show them how important the game is, but we don't say much about it during the week."


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