ATHENS -- The message, according to one Georgia player, was succinct. After a week of concentrating fully on Georgia Tech, and then quickly dispensing with Georgia Tech, the locker room talk finally turned to the subject everyone on the outside had been discussing for weeks.
Atlanta. On to Atlanta. Alabama, sophomore receiver Malcolm Mitchell said. On to the next game.
That would be the SEC championship, which is shaping up to be the biggest game in recent Georgia football history. It means a chance to play for a national championship.
But first, Georgia had to deal with its in-state rival. It did so quickly and easily, running away with a 42-10 win Saturday.
Man its amazing, Georgia senior defensive end Cornelius Washington said. Its been a long trip. A long season. But we earned it, man. Weve earned it. Its definitely a blessing.
The feeling was quite different in the other locker room. Georgia Tech also has a chance to play for a BCS bowl, having backed into an appearance in this weeks ACC championship game.
But the Yellow Jackets (6-6) suffered a loss to Georgia for the 11th time in 12 meetings, and if it werent for the Bulldogs pulling their starters, the score might have been more lopsided. The Bulldogs led 42-3 with six minutes left in the third quarter.
If you watched the same game I did, it was a pretty good thumping, Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said.
Quarterback Tevin Washington put it another way, saying, We just went out there and laid an egg.
Georgia (11-1) continued its turnaround from when it had its egg-laying game, a 28-point thumping at South Carolina on Oct. 6. Since then, the Bulldogs have improved in every facet and will enter the SEC championship having won the past four games by an average of 26.5 points.
Weve been on a streak here, and weve been rolling, Washington said. The defense has been playing well, and the offense has been playing well. Weve been priding ourselves in being a physical, dominant team. Weve been priding ourselves on being a second-half team.
We feel like our chances are pretty good. And as you can see, Alabama can be beaten. You just gotta go out and execute your game plan and give yourself a chance. And thats what were gonna do.
Georgia got off to a quick start on Saturday. Malcolm Mitchell returned the opening kickoff 47 yards to the Georgia Tech 44. Four plays later, the Bulldogs were in the end zone, via a 3-yard Todd Gurley run. Gurley touched the ball three times on that quick opening drive.
Georgia Tech was on the verge of answering on its first drive, notching four first downs and reaching the Georgia 20. But then Bacarri Rambo came up big for the Bulldogs. The senior safety took the ball away from Georgia Tech rusher Robert Godhigh, and Rambo returned it 49 yards up to midfield.
It was a huge break for the Bulldogs, as Godhigh was inside the 5 -- although a holding call was about to push the Yellow Jackets back anyway and the play wasnt going to count. But Rambos strip had Georgia gladly declining the penalty.
A couple of minutes later, Gurley scored again, this time on a 1-yard run.
It was almost like déjà vu, Johnson said of Rambos strip. The same kid made a play against us two years ago when he took the ball out of our guys hands. You have to give him some credit because that play was a killer.
Still, Georgia Tech managed a field goal on its second drive. But Georgia answered, Aaron Murray connecting with Malcolm Mitchell on a 57-yard pass on the drives first play. Keith Marshall ran for 13 and then 15 yards, and the three-play, 85-yard drive ended with Georgia leading 21-3.
From there, the rout was on.
Once again, the freshman tandem of Gurley and Marshall racked up the yards. They each had two touchdowns, and Gurley had 97 yards on 12 carries while Marshall had 66 yards on seven carries.
Murray passed for 215 yards, completing 14-of-17 passes, including touchdowns to Jay Rome (for 24 yards) and Rhett McGowan (for 11).
Georgia set a program record for points in a season at 456. The previous record was 454 in 2002 in 14 games.
But Georgias defense continued to be a major point of success. Dating back to the Florida game, that unit has returned to its form of last year, and on Saturday the first-team didnt allow a touchdown.
I thought our guys really dominated the game, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. We chose to get our guys out, from a big picture standpoint, play some younger guys and move on.
And so the Bulldogs moved on.
Georgia head coach Mark Richt had been fanatical about only talking about Georgia Tech this past week. He said after the game that he didnt see any signs of his team looking ahead to Alabama.
Now, however, the focus can be on the Crimson Tide, Atlanta and all that winning this week would entail.
Thats something exciting to think about, Richt said. But again, SEC championships are hard to come by. And the bottom line is were just excited by the opportunity to do that, too.