In the jubilant moments after Georgia's 37-10 victory over Ole Miss, Mark Richt interrupted the celebration and reminded his Bulldogs that a larger game still loomed.
Since their woodshed whooping by South Carolina, the Bulldogs have responded like a team with a point to prove: the gut-check road win over Kentucky, the rousing upset of Florida, and now this technically sound dismantling of Ole Miss.
But Richt knows all of that will be meaningless if the Dogs stumble Saturday against Auburn.
Said Richt: "I told the guys, 'Get your mind right, right now. Get your jaw set.'"
Yes, he is fully aware of Auburn's struggles this season. Yes, he's mindful that just a year ago, a lesser Georgia team than this one beat a significantly better Auburn team than this one 45-7.
But perhaps that's precisely why Richt issued a cautionary reminder. His background is Miami and Florida State back in their dominant days. But after nearly 12 seasons in the SEC, Richt has learned to take no team for granted. That's especially true for the school that has more wins (54) over Georgia than any other opponent. Of course, that's owed in part to the longevity of the rivalry. In fact, Georgia has more wins (53) over Auburn than any other team.
Just how old is the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry? The first game was played in Atlanta's Piedmont Park just six years after John Pemberton invented Coke and three years before Babe Ruth was born. In addition to that 54-53 Auburn advantage, the teams have tied eight times. It would have been nine if not for the advent of overtime. The '96 game -- coincidentally, their 100th meeting -- ended at 28-all in regulation before Georgia prevailed 56-49 in four overtimes.
The last tie, in '94, was an upset of sorts. Georgia was muddling along, just trying to become bowl eligible. Auburn was riding a 20-game winning streak under Terry Bowden.
Nothing is a given in this series. A Georgia victory Saturday would knot the series dead even for the first time since 1991.
Most players on both rosters were recruited by both schools. Many of them attended the rivalry game on their official visits. Those players who didn't grow up watching this rivalry quickly became indoctrinated strolling through the athletic department halls.
Visitors to the Butts-Mehre building in Athens -- aptly coined The Dog Majal by sports witer Dave Kindred -- can hear Larry Munson gush about sugar falling out of the sky.
Visitors to Auburn's Lovelace Center and Hall of Honor can reminisce about Pat Sullivan's historic performance against Georgia, when he led the Tigers to a 35-20 victory in a battle of unbeatens. Sullivan threw four touchdown passes, which most observers believe sealed Auburn's first Heisman Trophy.
At this point for Auburn, nothing will soothe the wounds of this wretched season. But an upset of Georgia would give the Tigers something positive to take into the offseason. For all of their troubles, this is a team that battled Clemson and LSU down the last minutes. Jonathan Wallace, the freshman from Central-Phenix City, has given the Tigers new hope at quarterback.
Timing matters a lot in college football. Auburn's 42-7 win over New Mexico State may not be impressive on the surface. But to just win at all had to help the Tigers regain some confidence. As Wallace said afterward, "That was a lot of fun."
This coming Saturday night in Auburn won't rival last Saturday night in Baton Rouge in terms of hype or national importance. But it may turn out to be just as entertaining.