Sugar Bowl about 2008 for Dawgs, too

Sugar Bowl about 2008 for Dawgs, too

ATHENS – There is not much more senior running back Thomas Brown can give Georgia's football program.

He has contributed 2,573 rushing yards and been a part of 39 victories. He has one more game, the Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl against Hawaii, to pad those figures.

After that, it's all about legacy, and Brown knows exactly what that legacy should be – a high ranking in next year's preseason polls.

"We want to go out on top, and we want to be known as the senior class that kind of propelled Georgia to that top five team," Brown said.

If the No. 4 Bulldogs (10-2) can handle No. 10 Hawaii (12-0), the nation's only undefeated major college team, then Georgia should be ranked, "in my opinion, at worst three," when next season begins, Brown said.

If at first glance that seems a trivial consideration – Hasn't it always been about where you finish not where you start? – consider that these Bulldogs are still stinging from what they think was a BCS snub, and Georgia's head coach and players believe that one reason LSU vaulted them in the final rankings was the Tigers got the benefit of the doubt because they were more highly thought of when the 2007 season began.

LSU was ranked No. 2 in both major polls before the season started, while Georgia was No. 13.

"The BCS the way it is set up, I think it's very important where you are ranked in the preseason," head coach Mark Richt said. "You hate to say much about it, but that's the way it is."

The players don't hate to say it.

"You look at LSU," junior defensive tackle Jeff Owens said. "It seems like the preseason rankings mean a lot."

"You are used to seeing the LSUs and Ohio States and Oklahomas up front, so when it comes to BCS time and the coaches poll, they usually put them up there," sophomore cornerback Asher Allen said. "So obviously we want to be talked with along with the Ohio States and Floridas and the LSUs, teams like that, so we possibly can next year play in the national championship game."

The Bulldogs, who have won six straight games, are behind Ohio State, LSU and Oklahoma in the Associated Press poll and behind those three teams and Virginia Tech in the BCS rankings.

"We have to play this game like it's the first game of next year," sophomore offensive lineman Chris Davis said. "We have to show the nation who we are. My personal opinion is we would be top three or four, depending on how well we show out in this Sugar Bowl. We can't talk about rankings next year until we beat Hawaii."

Winning the bowl game also would make for a smoother and more upbeat offseason, which in turn should lead to better play in the early part of the 2008 season, quarterback Matthew Stafford said.

"We have to go out there and get after Hawaii so they can have spirits high during the offseason," senior safety Kelin Johnson said. "The momentum of this program will be on a high. If we win this game and win it real good, we're top five, no doubt. And that brings a lot of things to this program."

It could help bring something particularly nice when the 2008 season concludes.

"It'll be a lot easier," Brown said, "as opposed to where we started this year, to get into the national title game."

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