ATHENS, Ga. — When Oregon and Kansas State both went down, Aaron Murray whooped it up as much as any Georgia fan.
He knew what that meant for the Bulldogs — a shot at the national championship.
“I’ve never screamed so much at the television and prayed so much in my life,” Georgia’s star quarterback said Tuesday. “It was definitely an exciting night. We were screaming, high-fiving, hugging, group hugs. It was a lot of fun.”
Funny thing, though. Outside of this state, hardly anyone is talking about the Southeastern Conference’s other title contender.
Instead, everyone is gushing about the possibility of two storied programs — Notre Dame and Alabama — playing for No. 1.
Georgia, it seems, is just an afterthought.
“We don’t mind being the underdogs,” Murray said. “We know what we have to do, and that’s win games. If we do that, we’ll be good to go.”
Indeed, while it may appear the third-ranked Bulldogs are trying to sneak in the back door, they have exactly the same path to the championship as the top-ranked Fighting Irish and second-ranked Crimson Tide.
Win out. Win it all.
For Georgia, it starts with Saturday’s regular-season finale against state rival Georgia Tech (6-5). The Bulldogs have won 10 of 11 in the series and are a two-touchdown favorite to extend that domination against the high-scoring Yellow Jackets. Still, coach Mark Richt is working hard to ensure his team doesn’t get caught looking ahead to the SEC championship game against Alabama the following week.
He’s gone to some rather extreme measures to keep the one-game-at-a-time mentality. Richt refuses to even say whether he was watching last Saturday night when Kansas State got blown out by Baylor and Oregon lost in overtime to Stanford, allowing Georgia to jump to No. 3 in the BCS standings.
If anyone tries to bring up Alabama or the BCS, Richt won’t even respond.
“I had to hang up on my mom,” he said, only half-joking.
Richt insists there’s been no discussion with his staff about what might happen beyond the Georgia Tech game, and he said there’s no need to remind his players it’s business as usual.
“We meet every day to talk about how we’re going to handle the week: who we’re playing next, what kind of challenges they bring, what we’re going to do on a daily basis to get ready for them,” Richt said. “That’s all we do.”