"We're still in very good shape to do some really good things,"
said this week. "This can still be remembered as one of the better years
That fact tends to get lost in all the fretting over injury after
injury, yet another loss to Florida and the missed chances in this
wide-open collegiate season.
"This has been a tiring season," Richt acknowledged. "It's
just been a
little bit more of an emotional grind this year."
Still, the No. 7 Bulldogs (7-2, 4-2 SEC) probably will win their
second straight Eastern Division title if they win their final three
games of the season, starting today with Auburn (6-4, 4-2).
If Georgia, Tennessee and Florida all win the remainder of their league
will finish tied for the division lead, and the Bulldogs would be
expected to go to Atlanta based on their BCS ranking.
"It's tough to look at the tiebreaker and all that stuff when you
you have to play Auburn," wide receiver Bryan McClendon said. "We
have to focus on this game because this is a must-win game."
Georgia and the Tigers meet at 3:30 p.m. in Sanford Stadium, where
Auburn has won nine of 10 and five straight.
"Every year, you can see the intensity rise in practice during this
week," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. "Players turn into coaches
and point out what the younger players should expect heading into the
game. On Sunday, a lot of guys become more vocal because it's Georgia."
Georgia has a streak of its own, 12 straight wins at home, the
second-longest in school history. The last time the Bulldogs lost at
home was a 24-17 defeat at the hands of Auburn in 2001. (Georgia's
longest home winning streak, 24 games, was ended by Auburn in 1983.)
"You don't want anybody to beat you on your home turf,"
tackle Gerald Anderson said. "That's like letting an intruder come into
your house and beat you up."
The Tigers are led by tailback Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, who
averages 99 yards per game and will be going up against the nation's No.
9 rushing defense. Auburn is more reliant on its running backs than any
team in the league. The Tigers running backs account for 51 percent of
their team's offense, the highest percentage in the SEC, but Georgia is
allowing just 86.6 rushing yards per game.
"We have to shut down the running game," Georgia defensive end
David Pollack said. "That's where it all stems from."
Georgia is coming off a bye week, which gave the Bulldogs time to get
over what Richt called "the Florida blues." Auburn, which was ranked
preseason No. 1 in the country by two polls, is coming off a 24-20 loss
to Ole Miss that eliminated it from SEC contention.
"They don't sound like a bunch of guys who (will quit)," Richt
"I just don't see that in them. I think we'll face a team that is a
little bit mad and still feels like it has a little bit to prove."
"There will be no problems getting our guys ready to play this
he said. "Both teams leave everything on the field. Everyone plays their
hearts out from the beginning of the game, which makes for several
memorable plays in the series."
The last three games have been decided in the last two minutes, twice
on the final play of the game.
"It's going to be a 60-minute war," Georgia defensive tackle
said. "I just feel like it's going to be that kind of game."
Despite his concerns, Richt still like his team's chances in that kind
"I see a lot of good signs," he said. "They still seem to
each other and enjoying working toward the common goal we have in front