ATHENS, Ga. — Mark Richt issued stern instructions to his team minutes after Georgia’s runaway win over Mississippi: “Get your jaw set” for a tough game at Auburn.
“I told the guys ‘Get your mind right, right now,’ ” Richt said. “We know they’re capable of knocking us off.”
A win Saturday night at Auburn would give Georgia the Southeastern Conference’s Eastern division title and its second consecutive trip to the conference championship game in Atlanta.
The Bulldogs (7-1, 6-1 SEC) moved up two spots to No. 5 in The Associated Press Top 25 on Sunday.
Led by a resurgent defense, Georgia rolled to a 37-10 win over Ole Miss. Richt didn’t wait to emphasize the point that his Bulldogs can’t look past Auburn (2-7, 0-6), which must beat Georgia or No. 1 Alabama to avoid a winless SEC campaign.
The Tigers were off to their worst start in 60 years before beating New Mexico State 42-7 to snap a five-game losing streak in freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace’s first start.
Since losing at South Carolina on Oct. 7, Georgia has won three in a row. The key was a 17-9 win over then-No. 3 Florida that would give the Bulldogs the tiebreaker if each team finishes 7-1 in the SEC.
Richt said Georgia’s final SEC regular-season game won’t be easy, even if the Tigers are at the bottom of the SEC West.
“We’re one game away from our goal of winning the Eastern Division,” Richt said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do between now and then. It’s never easy going to Auburn. They’ll be playing out of their minds. We’ve got to be prepared for that.”
Senior wide receiver Tavarres King, who had a 40-yard touchdown, said motivation won’t be a problem against Auburn.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity we have,” King said. “This is what we wanted, an opportunity to go back to the (Georgia) Dome.”
Quarterback Aaron Murray said the players “stayed extremely focused” against Ole Miss, even when they trailed 10-0.
“Once we got going, we were good to go,” he said.
Murray said he expects the players’ mindset won’t change.
“We are going to be extremely focused this week,” Murray said. “There’s so much on the line, and getting back to Atlanta has been our goal all year.”