A return trip to Atlanta is well within reach for Georgia.
Jordan Jenkins could hardly contain his excitement about that possibility after the Bulldogs’ 17-9 win against previously unbeaten Florida Saturday in Jacksonville gave the Bulldogs control of the SEC East and the inside track to get back to the league championship game.
“I definitely feel like we’ve just climbed a great step,” the freshman outside linebacker said. “We just got past the big obstacle tonight. In my mind, I really wanted to play Alabama. They were in my top three. I would really love to get a chance to play against them. They’re a great team.”
First things first.
A homecoming game against Ole Miss Saturday in Athens that CBS announced Sunday it has picked up for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff. A trip to Auburn comes the week after.
Georgia (7-1, 5-1 SEC) will clinch the SEC East by winning those two games, but isn’t taking anything for granted.
“All we’ve done is given us a chance to play Ole Miss and make it meaningful,” coach Mark Richt said. “We know there’s a lot of work to do. The guys were saying it before I even said it. That was a good sign.”
The Bulldogs are also back in the mix to have a shot at getting to the BCS title game.
Georgia is sixth in this week’s BCS standings. It is second among one-loss teams after No. 5 LSU.
Georgia rose five spots in the USA Today coaches’ poll and Harris polls to No. 6. Those polls are two-thirds of the BCS formula.
The Bulldogs are No. 7 in the Associated Press poll.
Ole Miss (5-3, 2-2 SEC) has won two straight league games, winning at Arkansas Saturday 30-27 after a 21-point win at Auburn, but Georgia is a 14 1/2 point favorite Saturday, according to VegasInsider.com
“We know we’ve got to win,” Richt said Sunday. “We know that we’ve got to continue to play like we did this last game to really give us our best chance.”
Auburn, which was crushed 63-21 at home by Texas A&M Saturday, will carry an 0-6 SEC record into the Georgia game after playing New Mexico State this week.
“We haven’t won the SEC East yet,” safety Bacarri Rambo said. “We’ve still got two more SEC games to play. We’ve just got to get back to practice on Monday and work hard and get better.”
If Georgia loses one of its last two SEC games and Florida beats Missouri, the Gators would win the East.
“All we’ve done is make next week big,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said Saturday night. “The bottom line is we’ve got two games left to really get where we want to go.”
On Sunday, outside linebacker Jarvis Jones was named the Walter Camp National defensive player of the week for the second time this season. Jones had a game-high 13 tackles, three sacks and forced and recovered two fumbles.
Richt agreed it was one of the most special defensive performances he can remember.
“It was very fitting that he was the guy that caused that last fumble,” Richt said.
Notes: Georgia prayed for the health of South Carolina tailback Marcus Lattimore after Saturday’s game, Richt said. Lattimore damaged “several” knee ligaments against Tennessee on Saturday, South Carolina announced Sunday. “We prayed for him as a team,” Richt said. “As we were just kind of closing out the day, we thought about him. Just what a warrior he is, what a great football player and a great competitor and a guy we have a lot of respect for as a person as well. We know how an injury like that is just very difficult so we wanted to pray for him and his family so we did that.” … Richt was asked about a pregame incident involving the teams in which a video shows Florida strength and conditioning coach Jeff Dillman pushing Georgia safety Corey Moore. “I’m not worried about that right now,” Richt said. … Fullback Merritt Hall sprained his ankle on Georgia’s first offensive play Saturday. “I don’t know bad,” Richt said. “It was on the very first play from scrimmage. He had some contact with their defensive end and it got torqued the wrong way force on force and it got in an awkward position and he sprained his ankle. Zander (Ogletree) came in. Zander actually played a heck of a ballgame.”