ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia really didn't need any extra motivation. After all, the Bulldogs were readying themselves to play Georgia Tech.
Still, coach Mark Richt gave his team another reason to get fired up.
Some Georgia Tech players, Richt claimed, had stomped on the "G" in the middle of Sanford Stadium during pregame warmups.
Did it really happen? Or was it just a little coaching embellishment?
Whatever the case, the Bulldogs certainly took Richt at his word. A few hours later, they walked off the field with a 51-7 victory - Georgia's biggest win ever against its state rival.
"If you beat us, you can do whatever you want," defensive lineman Gerald Anderson said. "But to do it before the game, that just showed disrespect to us. We were already fired up, and that probably helped us some more."
Of course, it's a bit farfetched to imply that whatever happened before the game led to Georgia's 44-point victory. The Bulldogs were a heavy favorite, a team en route to its first Southeastern Conference title in 20 years, a 13-1 record and No. 3 national ranking.
Still, no one expected Georgia to thoroughly humiliate the Yellow Jackets. It was 10-0 when the first quarter ended, 34-0 at halftime, 44-0 after three periods.
Georgia Tech finally broke through with a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. But Tyson Browning added a late TD run to assure Georgia of its most lopsided win in the series, which will resume Saturday with the 98th meeting between the schools.
The Bulldogs piled up 552 yards. They controlled the ball for nearly 37 minutes. They took advantage of three fumbles and two interceptions.
Nothing fluky about it. A rout in every sense of the word.
"We started out good," Richt said. "It was just one of those games where we grabbed the momentum and didn't let go."
In addition to a superior team and home-field advantage, Georgia was still riding high from a victory over Auburn two weeks earlier.
David Greene threw a fourth-down touchdown pass to Michael Johnson with 85 seconds remaining, clinching the SEC East title and a spot in the league championship game. That was a major relief for the Bulldog Nation, which could sense another promising season slipping away.
Georgia was off the following week, providing ample time to savor the Greene-to-Johnson miracle and heal up some players before meeting Georgia Tech in the regular-season finale.
"We were coming off the high of the Auburn game. I'm sure that helped us," Richt said. "And the open date helped us. We were pretty fresh for the Tech game."
The Yellow Jackets were hardly a pushover, arriving in Athens with a 7-4 record and two weeks to prepare for Georgia. For some reason, they came out sloppy and flat in their biggest game of the season.
"I remember the turnovers," All-American defensive end David Pollack said. "When you're getting a bunch of turnovers, you're usually going to be successful."
Receiver Terrence Edwards couldn't believe what he was seeing as the number on the Georgia side of the scoreboard climbed to staggering proportions.
"You never expect a Georgia Tech-Georgia game to be a blowout like it was last year," said Edwards, who now plays for the Atlanta Falcons.
"It was great. You're going into the game preparing for a fight. But we kept on scoring, and the score kept going up and up. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the score would be 51-7."
Edwards didn't have any sympathy for the Yellow Jackets. The memory of a three-year losing streak to Georgia Tech was still fresh in his mind.
In particular, Edwards harbored some bitterness about the disputed 1999 game. The refs ruled that Jasper Sanks fumbled near the Georgia Tech end zone in the final minute of a tie game, though replays clearly showed he was down. The Yellow Jackets took advantage of the blown call, winning 51-48 in overtime.
"No, I didn't feel for them at all," Edwards said. "I remembered the game where they said Jasper fumbled. We just erased some of the memories from that game."