The Georgia Bulldogs will enter Saturday's game against Auburn at Sanford Stadium with a 5-4 record and one win shy of bowl eligibility.
Triumphing over the Tigers, who are ranked No. 25 in the USA Today coaches poll, would inch the Bulldogs closer to a 13th consecutive eight-win season. Georgia is the only Bowl Subdivision team with 12 straight years of eight or more wins, but coach Mark Richt isn't looking that far ahead.
"We're really just going to talk about this one," Richt said Sunday. "We know that everybody tracks top 25 teams and keeps an eye on what the ranked teams are doing, so it's a game there will be a lot of attention on, and it's an opportunity to play well in front of the country."
Auburn creeping into the USA Today poll assures the Deep South's oldest rivalry of containing at least one ranked team for the 31st time in the past 32 meetings, with 1991 being the exception. The game will be televised by ESPN2 with a 7 p.m. kickoff.
Georgia has won three straight in the series and is seeking its longest streak since capturing five in a row from 1944-48. First-year Tigers coach Gene Chizik is 1-2 in the rivalry, having lost in 2002-03 and winning in '04 as Auburn's defensive coordinator.
"The Auburn-Georgia game is the oldest rivalry in the South and is just as good as it gets," Chizik said. "We are going to really, really be looking forward to it."
While the Bulldogs were pounding Tennessee Tech 38-0 this past weekend, Auburn was rolling over Furman 63-31 to improve to 7-3. The Tigers slipped into the Southeastern Conference cellar in scoring defense after their reserves allowed a slew of points to the Paladins, while Georgia climbed into a tie with Arkansas for 10th.
The Bulldogs held the Golden Eagles to 55 total yards and are now 36th nationally in total defense, allowing 332 yards a game.
Georgia was able to correct just about everything against Tennessee Tech except turnovers and penalties. The Bulldogs committed the game's only turnover, so they still have yet to win that category in any game this season, and they had 11 penalties for 86 yards.
The Bulldogs and Texas Tech now are tied for last nationally with 9.44 penalties a game.
"They are as aware of those as anything you could possibly be aware of," Richt said. "Everybody's on the rampage about them."
Georgia's offensive line had five false-start penalties Saturday. Once a player made a miscue, Richt sat him out the rest of that series.
"I don't know if I'll do that again," he said. "I don't know if that's really wise. We may pull them for a play and get them back, but I'm not 100-percent sure if we'll do that, either."
The Bulldogs plan on having receiver A.J. Green (lung) and defensive end Justin Houston (elbow) healthy this week.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...