ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia’s players realize that they must first do their part by clinching the SEC East title with a victory on Saturday at Auburn and then winning their two remaining regular-season games, but some Bulldogs admit they’re already engaging in some amateur BCS mathematics.
As the highest-ranked one-loss team in the BCS standings, No. 5 Georgia (8-1, 6-1 SEC) must win out -- including a win in the SEC championship game, most likely against No. 1 Alabama -- and then hope for some good fortune in order to play for the national championship.
And a random sampling of 10 Bulldogs revealed that seven are keeping up with what happens each week with the other undefeated teams ranked ahead of them -- No. 2 Kansas State, No. 3 Oregon and No. 4 Notre Dame -- and following to some degree the results necessary for Georgia to advance in the rankings.
“[I followed it] as of last week,” senior safety Sanders Commings said. “After we beat Florida, I started paying attention to all that stuff. But we’ve got to do our job, and that’s just keep winning.”
That’s job No. 1, starting with Saturday’s game at Auburn (2-7, 0-6), where a victory would send the Bulldogs back to the SEC championship game for the second straight season. Alabama (9-0, 6-0) also has a chance to clinch a spot in the league title game if it beats Texas A&M (7-2, 4-2). And if the defending BCS champions do reserve a spot in Atlanta, even the most confident Bulldogs acknowledge that Alabama would enter that game as a considerable favorite.
“I bet they’re going to be huge favorites headed into the game, and rightly so,” quarterback Aaron Murray said. “They’re undefeated, they’re the No. 1 team in the nation, they haven’t lost a game in God knows how long -- LSU last year -- and won championships two of the past three years. Obviously they’ll be favored, but that’s still four weeks away and we still have to do our part and they have to do their part and we’ll have this discussion in four weeks hopefully. That’s the goal.”
Yes it’s a big if, but if the Bulldogs were to qualify for that game and beat the Crimson Tide, they would have a win against the nation’s No. 1 and No. 2 teams at the time of their meetings (Florida was ranked second in the BCS when the Bulldogs won 17-9 two weeks ago). That would beef up an otherwise mediocre resume, but it still might be enough to help Georgia vault past the other higher-ranked teams if they remain undefeated.
“I’m following it a lot,” cornerback Damian Swann said. “I feel like if 2, 3 and 4 or if 2 and 3 go undefeated and we just so happen to beat Alabama, I really don’t think we’ll get into the national title game.”
Of course, plenty of games remain on the schedule before it even gets to that point. As he mentioned, Swann is following the BCS scenarios closely enough to rattle off potential losses for the undefeated teams -- Oregon against Stanford, Notre Dame against USC and Kansas State at TCU this weekend.
Two of the higher-ranked teams actually came within an eyelash of losing last weekend, in fact, as a last-minute Alabama touchdown drive saved the Crimson Tide from a defeat at LSU and Notre Dame had to rally from a two-touchdown deficit and then watch as Pittsburgh kicker Kevin Harper missed a 33-yard field goal in overtime to survive for a 29-26 victory.
The Bulldogs were actually watching the end of that game in their locker room just after their 37-10 win against Ole Miss.
“We were so mad,” outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. “I can’t believe the kicker missed that field goal. I couldn’t believe they even let Notre Dame back in the game. But ... ahh. Something will happen.”
Something significant has to happen for the Bulldogs to play for a BCS championship, starting with them winning all of their remaining games. And that is where each of the players who said they aren’t following the teams ranked ahead of them are directing their focus.
“I don’t have no favorites,” safety Bacarri Rambo said. “My favorite is UGA. I can’t go for nobody else.”
But the majority of Rambo’s teammates seem to feel comfortable with pulling against anybody who stands between then and their BCS dream.
“It’s not a good situation to be in, but that’s beyond our control,” said receiver Rhett McGowan, who said he was a big Notre Dame fan growing up and would be rooting for the Fighting Irish instead of against them if they weren’t in Georgia’s way.
“But thank goodness we’re controlling our own destiny for the SEC. So we’re in good spirits right now and we’re excited to be where we are.”