Originally created 11/24/03

Bulldogs one victory away from possible return to SEC title game



ATLANTA -- Georgia needs to win its final regular season game for a chance to return to the Southeastern Conference championship game.

The opponent? In-state rival Georgia Tech, a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"It is strange to have to beat an ACC team to possibly play in the SEC championship game," Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said Sunday. "But I think we would have enough incentive to play Georgia Tech anyway."

Georgia, which moved up to No. 5 in the latest poll by The Associated Press, clinched a tie with Florida for the East Division title with a 30-10 victory Saturday over Kentucky. If Tennessee beats the Wildcats on Saturday, the Volunteers would make it a three-way tie, which would benefit the Bulldogs.

In that scenario, the team with the highest ranking in the Bowl Championship Series would meet the West Division champ - likely LSU - in the SEC title game. Georgia was sixth last week, one spot ahead of Tennessee, with the Gators in 13th.

Florida wraps up its regular season Saturday against Florida State.

"In a perfect world, I would think all Bulldog fans would want Georgia and Tennessee to win and Florida to lose to Florida State," said Richt, a former assistant with the Seminoles.

The Bulldogs (9-2) have won the past two against the Yellow Jackets (6-5), including a 51-7 victory last season.

That was the largest margin of victory in a rivalry that dates to 1893.

Georgia Tech is bowl eligible for the seventh straight year - a school record - but has lost two of the past three games, including a 41-17 loss to Duke.

So far, Richt hasn't seen much of the Yellow Jackets, although he did watch their games earlier this season against Auburn and Florida State. Georgia Tech upset the Tigers, then blew a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter against the Seminoles.

"I think they're doing very well," Richt said of Georgia Tech. "Both Florida State and Auburn are very good football teams, and they probably should have beaten both of them."

The Bulldogs used a no-huddle offense Saturday, the first time this season they've used it. On their opening drive, they went 76 yards in only five plays, with Michael Cooper finishing off the possession with a 10-yard touchdown run.

Quarterback David Greene threw for 289 yards and no interceptions, his second straight game without a pick. In the previous six games, he had nine.

"I felt good," Greene said. "Kentucky did what we thought they would do. We made some big plays and made some third-down conversions. That was the key. You have to make some big plays on third down and keep the ball moving."

Richt wasn't sure if he would use it again this week.

"I think we got out of it about what we wanted to," Richt said. "I would say, overall, it was worth it."