More than bragging rights on line when Georgia hosts Georgia Tech

Georgia football coach Mark Richt recently explained why today’s game against Georgia Tech should have a charged-up atmosphere for the high noon kickoff in Sanford Stadium.

More than bragging rights on line when Georgia hosts Georgia Tech
Marc Weiszer

His list wasn’t all-inclusive.

“It will be a highly emotional game for a lot of reasons,” Richt said. “No. 1: It’s our in-state rival. No. 2: It’s the last home game for our seniors, a big day for our boys.”

What was left unsaid was the higher stakes than normal for the annual tilt.

The third-ranked Bulldogs are in position to play for the program’s first national title since 1980 if they beat the Yellow Jackets and follow that up a week later with a win in Atlanta in the Southeastern Conference championship game, likely against Alabama.

Richt has kept the focus squarely on Georgia Tech and tried to avoid all the talk of potentially reaching the program’s first BCS title game.

“I had to hang up on my mom,” Richt said.

He was kidding.

“The staff’s not asking me,” Richt said. “I get here about 8 (a.m.) and leave about midnight, so there’s not many people I talk to besides people in the building. We really haven’t talked about it.”

There’s plenty of chatter about the Bulldogs’ position from others after unbeatens Kansas State and Oregon were upset on Saturday night.

“After all that happened, it still comes down to this,” senior safety Bacarri Rambo said. “If we don’t go handle our business, all those losses don’t mean anything. It’s all on us. We’ve just got to go handle our business.”

Added senior receiver Tavarres King: “If we don’t win this game, we can’t reach our goals. That’s it. That’s all the motivation you need right there.”

Getting a chance to beat Georgia Tech is motivation enough in most years. Georgia has won 10 of its last 11 against the Yellow Jackets.

“I think the guys understand how important this game is, and they want to win it,” Richt said. “They want to win all of them, but I think this game takes on a little bit more special meaning to them.”

Georgia (10-1) hasn’t won all of them this season, but has come close. A 35-7 drubbing at South Carolina on Oct. 6 knocked the Bulldogs back, but they haven’t lost since and find themselves not only in the SEC title game, but with a chance for more.

“There were a lot of question marks after that loss,” quarterback Aaron Murray said. “As a team, we felt confident. We knew you just got to continue winning and continue to put yourself into a situation if people fall that you’d be able to move right in and take that spot.

“I applaud our guys for pushing that game behind us and continuing to win and win from then out. We still have work to do. We’re not in a championship yet. We’re in the SEC championship, but we’re not in the national championship yet. We’ve got to focus on this week and then the next week and make sure we get the job done.”

Georgia Tech (6-5) has a chance to spoil things for Georgia, but even if the Bulldogs weren’t where they want to be in the BCS title chase, this game would still be big, according to a a player who hails from New England, but knows about Peach State bragging rights.

“No matter what the records are, or what’s happening, nothing changes the fact that if we lose to them it’s a living hell for the next 365 days,” said tight end Arthur Lynch from Dartmouth, Mass. “It’s what fuels me and gets me motivated. If you’re not motivated for this game, you probably shouldn’t have come to Georgia. You always have to beat Tech.”

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