Last year's football game between Georgia and Ole Miss was dubbed the "Hot Seat Bowl" due to the uncertainty surrounding coaches Mark Richt and Houston Nutt.
This time around, it's a lot more meaningful.
Georgia took control of the Southeastern Conference's East Division race this past weekend with a 17-9 victory over previously undefeated Florida and needs a win Saturday at Sanford Stadium to inch closer to a second straight trip to the Georgia Dome for the league championship game. Ole Miss is coming off a 30-27 triumph at Arkansas and is the surprise story of the SEC, with Hugh Freeze's Rebels needing one more win to attain bowl eligibility after last season's 2-10 collapse that resulted in Nutt's firing.
"What happens is that when you start tasting success, you start getting excited and you start believing," Georgia coach Mark Richt said Sunday afternoon. "They're on the rise right now, and Coach Freeze has got them going. We know that when you play teams that are getting used to winning, they are very hard to beat."
The Georgia-Ole Miss game was picked up Sunday by CBS and will kick off at 3:30 p.m. CBS has never televised a meeting between the Bulldogs and Rebels, whose last matchup in Athens in 2007 wasn't televised at all.
Georgia's victory over the Gators elevated the 7-1 Bulldogs to No. 7 in the new Associated Press poll and No. 6 in the USA Today and Harris polls. They jumped from 10th to sixth in the latest BCS standings.
This could be a very contrasting time for the Bulldogs, who heard last week they had no chance against the Gators and now will be double-digit favorites throughout November.
"We can't have a letdown," offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said Saturday night. "We've got to realize how we got to this point, and that's by playing hard and practicing hard. There is a perception, and then there is our perception in our own locker room, and that is that we fight for each other every day."
Said inside linebacker Michael Gilliard: "We've just got to stay humble and not sleep on any team. Ole Miss is 5-3, so obviously they're a pretty good team in the league this year."
The Bulldogs and Rebels met early last season, with each team having 1-2 records entering Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Georgia's only win had come at the expense of Coastal Carolina, while the Rebels had defeated Southern Illinois.
Odds and ends
Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones won the first of many honors Sunday when he was named the Walter Camp national defensive player of the week. ... Richt said he and his team prayed Saturday for South Carolina junior tailback Marcus Lattimore, who suffered a gruesome, season-ending knee injury against Tennessee. ... Bulldogs starting fullback Merritt Hall sprained his ankle on the first play from scrimmage and was replaced by Alexander Ogletree, but Richt did not have a status update Sunday. ... Richt on the combined 24 penalties for 227 yards Saturday: "That was one of the most intense games I've ever coached from start to finish."