ATHENS -- The Georgia football team made winning the SEC East one of its top goals this season, especially after a rough start. It was basically all the players and coaches talked about the past few weeks.
And with that spot in the SEC championship game now secured, the Bulldogs have to wait two weeks to play in it. And, in the meantime, they must prepare for arch-rival Georgia Tech in a game that has no relation to the SEC but is still vitally important.
The Bulldogs say the transition won’t be hard.
“We punched our ticket, but at the same time it’s easy to get up for this game,” junior linebacker Christian Robinson said. “I’d say it’s a lot easier than maybe (Kentucky) was for us. Because this rivalry is just hatred.”
“Definitely you’re gonna enjoy this (Saturday),” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said immediately after the 19-10 win over Kentucky. “We all know we have Georgia Tech coming up. It’s huge for us. It’s a big game for this state and for everybody that’s a Georgia fan.”
Georgia (9-2) has defeated its in-state rival nine of the past 10 years. The Bulldogs, who are ranked 13th in the AP poll, are slight favorites to win this year against the 25th-ranked Yellow Jackets.
Georgia will enter the game riding the momentum of its nine-game winning streak, and its chances of making it a double-digit run will be enhanced if Isaiah Crowell can play. The freshman tailback made only two carries against Kentucky before an ankle injury kept him out, and he was limping noticeably after the game.
But head coach Mark Richt was optimistic that Crowell would play, saying that the ankle didn’t swell up badly.
“My guess is that he will be ready to go,” Richt said.
He was less sure about backup Carlton Thomas, who missed his third game because of suspension. Thomas is the team’s second-leading rusher this year.
“I’ll let you all know when we do know,” Richt said.
Richard Samuel, who would be the top backup when healthy, had ankle surgery last month. He might be ready to play in the SEC championship.
Georgia will also have to wait a week to find out who its opponent will be at the Georgia Dome. It will be LSU if the top-ranked Tigers defeat Arkansas on Friday. But if not, it could be either of those teams or Alabama, depending on a complex tiebreaker involving the BCS standings.
Richt was asked Sunday about those three SEC teams being the top-ranked teams in the BCS.
“It’s a great league,” he said. “And the Western Division is stout. They might be the best three teams in America. I’m not gonna sit here and dispute that.”
But the team remains on message: This week’s game in Atlanta, not the one on Dec. 3, is the focus.
“I go to church, and people I go to church with get on me about (Georgia Tech),” Robinson said. “It’s nothing I’ve done, it’s just something that’s been going on for so long you’ve gotta prepare for it. I’m so excited.
“It’s a discipline game. It shows who’s come to play and who’s practiced and doing your job on every play. That’s what Tech’s hoping for. They want you to mess up two or three times, they score three touchdowns and that’s the ballgame. That’s their gameplan.”