When Auburn defensive end Dee Ford slammed into Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, causing Murray's 49th and final pass attempt to fall incomplete Saturday evening as time expired, the Bulldogs joined the majority of the Southeastern Conference.
Only four SEC teams harbor hopes of a league championship following Georgia's heartbreaking 43-38 loss to the Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The readjusting of goals could be more challenging for Georgia compared to other teams eliminated from the hunt, with the Bulldogs having won East Division titles in 2011 and against last year.
The Bulldogs are now 6-4 overall and 4-3 in conference play heading into closing games against visiting Kentucky this Saturday night and at Georgia Tech on Nov. 30.
"This one could be a tough one to get over, but we're going to have to," Murray said Saturday night. "We know that we've got two more games to finish the season off strong. We've got a big home game to send the seniors off the right way, finish the season off strong and get to a good bowl game."
This week's game against the Wildcats will be televised by ESPNU with a 7 p.m. kickoff.
Saturday marked Georgia's sixth game this season to be decided by five points or less. The Bulldogs came out on top against LSU, Tennessee and Florida, but they were not as fortunate against Clemson, Vanderbilt and Auburn.
The Auburn finish was the most crushing, with the Tigers converting a fourth-and-18 with a 73-yard touchdown pass from Nick Marshall to Ricardo Louis with 25 seconds remaining. Louis caught the pass after Bulldogs safety Josh Harvey-Clemons deflected the ball into the air after colliding with fellow safety Tray Matthews.
"There was so much emotion in getting down and coming back and the way it ended," Bulldogs tackle John Theus said. "It's tough, but life goes on. We know we're not in the hunt for the SEC anymore, but we know these next two games are huge."
Said coach Mark Richt: "It's been an emotional season, obviously. We've played 10 games and eight have come down to the last play or last drive or very close to that. TV is getting their money's worth on us."
Former Auburn athletic director David Housel after the game could not recall a more improbable victory in program history, given the late desperation that resulted from Georgia rallying from a 37-17 deficit to take a 38-37 lead.
The outcome has left Missouri and South Carolina as the two remaining eligible teams in the East race, with Alabama and Auburn in the West. Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks need Missouri to lose one of its last two games to win the East and benefited from Auburn's miraculous win.
"Obviously we're glad it happened, but I feel badly for those defensive backs from Georgia that tipped the ball up to the guy," Spurrier said Sunday afternoon. "Sometimes you wonder what they're thinking. You would think just knock it down and let it hit the ground."
'We're a team'
Richt was asked Sunday evening about his satisfaction level with his defense, which has now given up at least 40 points three times this season. Georgia has allowed 30 or more points seven times, which is a program record.
"We're a team here at Georgia, and we're going to keep coaching and keep trying make improvements and corrections on everything we do in all phases of the game," Richt said.
On a personnel note, Richt said backup tight end Jay Rome (foot) could possibly come back for a bowl game.
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.
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 ...