ATHENS - The Georgia football team's rankings have improved right along with its SEC East fortunes.
Following the win over then-No. 3 Florida, the Bulldogs shot up to No. 7 in the Associated Press poll on Sunday. But more importantly, at least as far as the once-faint national title hopes, the Bulldogs are now ranked No. 6 in both human polls that figure into the BCS rankings: The Harris poll and USA Today coaches poll.
UPDATE: Georgia was No. 6 in the updated BCS standings, released on Sunday evening.
Georgia is expected to be a heavy favorite in its remaining four regular-season games, and wins in the next two games (vs. Ole Miss and at Auburn) will clinch a spot in the SEC championship game. The Bulldogs opened as 16-point favorites for Saturday's game against Ole Miss, according to Betonline.com.
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Still, head coach Mark Richt is being understandably cautious amid the euphoria of the win over Florida.
"It's like Jarvis Jones said, this win doesn't mean anything if we don't keep winning," Richt said on Sunday.
In another sign of Georgia's improved status, CBS announced that it has picked up Saturday's Georgia-Ole Miss game, which will now kick off at 3:30 p.m. CBS had elected to take a six-day hold on its selection for Saturday, and picked the game between the new SEC East leader and the resurgent Rebels, who are one game away from bowl eligibility.
So now that game will serve as the CBS undercard for Saturday night's showdown between No. 1 Alabama and No. 5 LSU. The winner of that game will in all likelihood win the SEC West, and be Georgia's opponent on Dec. 1 if it can take care of its own business.
Some more notes Sunday from Richt's media teleconference:
- Richt downplayed the pregame scrum that ensued when Florida players were taking the field, and a few Georgia players ran through them.
"There was some chirping and all that kind of thing. But I don't think anybody got physical or anything like that," Richt said.
There is a picture of the scrum where Florida's strength coach is apparently shoving a Georgia player, whose identity can't be made out.
"I don't know, I'd have to look at it," Richt said. "I'm not really worried about that right now."
- Richt did grant that the game had a higher intensity level.
"That was one of the most intense games I've ever coached, start to finish," Richt said.
The Bulldogs were called for a season-high 14 penalties for 143 yards, also a season-high. Florida was also penalized a bunch, to the tune of 10 for 95 yards. Richt didn't seem too concerned about it going forward, indicating he saw it as a one-game situation.
"Emotions were so high, and the officials, they're in the heart of it, they knew what was going on. They were trying to do whatever they could to slow it down, because they knew that our guys were wanting to get after each other," Richt said. "I mean how many times have you seen a guy make a play and then stare a guy down or whatever? You usually don't see a flag on that. But it got to a point where if you did anything like that, the flag was gonna fly, because they didn't want it to escalate. But we've got to keep from doing that. But on the other hand, I don't want to lose intensity. You want intensity with discipline."
- Starting fullback Merritt Hall sprained his ankle on Georgia's first offensive play on Saturday. Richt didn't know how bad Hall's injury was or whether he can play Saturday.
But junior Zander Ogletree, previously buried on the depth chart, had a solid game in Hall's place, catching a couple passes and blocking well.
"He played a heck of a ballgame," Richt said. "He was very physical in his run-blocking. He didn't seem to have many mental errors at all. I don't know if he had any missed assignments. Caught the ball a couple times. Got a nice first down. ... So he did come in and play well. But Merritt's been playing well all year, and we're hoping to get him back as soon as we can."
- Richt said he didn't know why sophomore offensive lineman Watts Dantzler was not on the travel roster.