Bulldogs ’100 percent’ focused on Tech this week

The UGA Bookstore is selling SEC Eastern Division champion T-shirts that on the front say “12.3.2011 The Dome” and on the back proclaim “Atlanta Bound.”

Before Georgia plays in the conference title game, the Bulldogs have the matter of holding on to state supremacy with a trip to Atlanta to play Georgia Tech on the Flats.

The No. 13 Bulldogs (9-2) and No. 25 Yellow Jackets (8-3) play at noon on ESPN.

“You’ve got to put everything on hold,” coach Mark Richt said Sunday, a day after celebrating clinching the program’s first trip to the title game since 2005. “That’s going to be the focus — 100 percent Georgia Tech.”

Leading rusher Isaiah Crowell is likely to play after being limited to just three offensive snaps against Kentucky due to a sprained left ankle. Richt said director of sports medicine Ron Courson “is pretty confident” that Crowell will be good to go.

“It didn’t seem to swell too badly,” Richt said.

The status of tailback Carlton Thomas remains uncertain. He was suspended for a third time this season for violating a team rule.

“I don’t know on that yet, but I’ll let you all know when I do know,” Richt said.

Georgia’s defense has been among the nation’s best during the team’s nine-game winning streak.

The Bulldogs are now No. 2 in rush defense at 81.3 yards per game, but face a unique test against the triple-option in Georgia Tech’s No. 2 rushing offense.

Georgia Tech averages 324 yards rushing per game. The Bulldogs have given up exactly that many yards total in their last seven SEC games — and Vanderbilt accounted for 200 of those.

“It’s a whole different world,” Richt said. “It’s a different type of running game. You may be outstanding versus some of the more common things that we see on a week-to-week basis and just get thrashed by this system we’re about to go against.”

The Yellow Jackets rushed for 411 yards against Georgia last year in a 42-34 Bulldogs win.

“They’re good at what they do, they understand their system,” Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “They know how they want to attack you. We’ve just got to get a plan together and be able to take away the run because obviously they run it a lot and they run it well.”

Georgia and Georgia Tech met last year and ended their seasons with unsightly 6-7 records. Both have rebounded. The Yellow Jackets won their eighth game, 38-31, against Duke on Saturday.

Georgia got to the SEC championship without having to play the power three of the SEC West, but either No. 1 LSU, No. 2 Alabama or No. 3 Arkansas will face the Bulldogs on Dec. 3.

“They might be the three best teams in America,” Richt said. “I’m not going to sit here and try to dispute that.”

LSU will play in the SEC title game by beating visiting Arkansas on Friday in a 2:30 p.m. game.

If Arkansas pulls the upset and Alabama wins its game against Auburn on Saturday, there will be a three-way tie atop the division.

The tiebreaker comes down to the order in the BCS standings unless the top two teams are within five spots of each other. That’s likely, so it’s then determined by the head to head result among those top two in next week’s BCS standings.

Arkansas would have the tiebreaker on LSU. Alabama would have the tiebreaker on Arkansas. LSU would have the tiebreaker on Alabama.

“In a way, I’m kind of glad we’re not going to know or at least we don’t know most of the week,” Richt said. “Even if we wanted to start moving ahead, it would be no use to us because we really have no idea who we’re going to play.”

Notes: Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones is tied for second in the nation with 12 1/2 sacks. Illinois’ Whitney Mercilus has 13 1/2. … Blair Walsh has moved into second on the SEC all-time scoring list with 393 points. Former Bulldog Billy Bennett leads with 409. … After starting 6-0, Georgia Tech lost three of four games, falling to Virginia, Miami and Virginia Tech and beating Clemson. … Richt and his wife Katharyn shared a seven-second kiss on the sideline Saturday when Georgia clinched the East title. “I thought it was a good one,” Richt said of the public display of affection. “I personally thought she was mauling me. I went there just for a nice, friendly kiss and she started to wear me out. I didn’t know what to do other than go with it. That’s the way I saw it.” That response brought some laughter on Richt’s teleconference Sunday evening. “She’ll be so mad at me,” Richt said.

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