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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Georgia at rarified heights, problem is to complete No. 1

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Georgia finds itself in a most uncommon place.

No. 1.

For the primary time because the 1982 season, when a man named Herschel Walker starred at operating again, the Bulldogs maintain the highest spot in The Related Press rankings throughout the season.

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Now, the problem is to remain there.

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“It’s only a quantity, proper?” coach Kirby Good mentioned Monday. “I don’t see a plateau. The objective is to be primary on the finish of the season. You all the time know that.”

Led by a ferocious protection that has allowed simply two touchdowns and 26 factors, the Bulldogs (6-0, 4-0 Southeastern Convention) climbed to No. 1 after defending nationwide champion Alabama was upset by Texas A&M.

The Bulldogs have been a unanimous alternative within the AP ballot.

Georgia hasn’t been high canine because the 2008 preseason ballot, a spot they surrendered even after successful their opening recreation.

One should return practically 4 many years to search out the final time the Bulldogs have been No. 1 throughout the season.

In 1982, Georgia moved to No. 1 in early November after a 44-0 win over Florida and held that spot for the ultimate two video games of the common season, establishing a 1-2 showdown with Penn State within the Sugar Bowl.

The Nittany Lions prevailed 27-23 to assert the nationwide championship.

Georgia hopes to complete the job that long-ago workforce failed to finish, although its a much-different period. The common season is now 12 video games as a substitute of 11. The SEC championship recreation offers one other potential roadblock. And it takes two playoff victories to win a nationwide championship.

“All people’s objective is there, however to have a possibility to try this you need to be within the high 4,” Good instructed reporters at his weekly information convention. “That’s probably the most important half. We gained’t get caught up in that, allow you to guys write about it. That’s not a burden we feature. The burden we feature is how we play.”

Nonetheless, the No. 1 rating carries loads of gravitas.

As if to remind the Bulldogs the place they’re and what they’re chasing, former coach Vince Dooley — now 89 years {old} — attended Good’s media briefing.

Dooley stays the one coach to information Georgia to an undisputed nationwide championship, method again in 1980.

There have been just a few shut calls since then.

Below Mark Richt, the 2002 Bulldogs completed No. 3 with solely a single loss, an upset by Florida that ruined their nationwide title hopes. Georgia made one other run in 2007, additionally beneath Richt, however wound up No. 2 within the closing AP ballot.

Most notably, Good led the Bulldogs to the nationwide title recreation in opposition to Alabama on the finish of the 2017 season. The Crimson Tide rallied from a 13-0 halftime deficit and gained 26-23 on Tua Tagovailoa’s walk-off, 41-yard touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith in extra time.

The Bulldogs are solely involved with this season.

Positive, there’s loads of pleasure surrounding the No. 1 rating, however Good and his gamers insist they will not get caught up within the hype — particularly with an important recreation in opposition to No. 11 Kentucky (6-0, 4-0) developing Saturday.

The winner of this recreation will likely be in prime place to seize the SEC East title.

“That drives me to maintain it impartial, to maintain it the identical,” senior linebacker Adam Anderson mentioned. “Don’t attempt to change it up, don’t attempt to be somebody you’re not, don’t let being No. 1 affect the way you play them. Lots of people recover from their head a little bit. We don’t want to start out taking part in completely different.”

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops praised the powerhouse that Good has constructed throughout his six years in Athens.

“What Kirby has achieved there and the workforce that he has put collectively, you see why they’re ranked the primary workforce within the nation and main and dominating within the defensive statistical classes,” Stoops mentioned. “And taking part in extraordinarily effectively offensively. May also harm you at any given second in particular groups. They’re taking part in very effectively in all areas.”

The massive query hanging over the Bulldogs is the standing of No. 1 quarterback JT Daniels, who missed the final two video games with a proper lat damage.

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It hasn’t been a lot of a difficulty to this point. Senior Stetson Bennett did a strong job filling in and the protection ensured that neither recreation was shut. With out Daniels, Georgia blew out Arkansas 37-0 and Auburn 34-10.

Good would not say whether or not Daniels will be capable to play in opposition to Kentucky.

“We are attempting to get JT again,” Good mentioned. “We’ll look and see how he’s and the place he’s. See what he can do. That’s all the time the case. I’m not moving into that. Proper now, I’m ensuring that we have now a wholesome quarterback and conserving our quarterbacks wholesome, by conserving them upright and guarded.”



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