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December 2, 2007

Title shot for Dawgs?

One of the craziest Saturdays in college football history has 4th-ranked Georgia in position to do something that no Bulldog team has done since 1982 play for the national championship.

Thanks to Saturday's colossal upset by Pittsburgh over BCS No. 2 West Virginia and Oklahoma's win over BCS No. 1 Missouri, Ohio State and Georgia are theoretically next in line to play in the BCS Championship Jan. 7 in New Orleans.

While some pundits have theorized that LSU - by virtue of its win over Tennessee in the SEC Championship - ACC champ Virginia Tech, Pac-10 victor Southern Cal or the Big 12 winner Sooners should jump the Bulldogs in the BCS standings because Georgia did not win its conference, head coach Mark Richt shot back at those detractors during a midnight teleconference with beat writers.

"The bottom line is it's going to come down to what the computers believe. But the way the system is set up, the rules do not state that you have to be a conference champion," Richt said. "I know some people have been harping on that, but the bottom line is voters need to vote whether or not they think Georgia is one of the two best teams in the country.

"I think we are one of the two best teams in the country right now. If the rule stated we had to win a conference championship, then that's what we ought to do. But that's not what the rules state."

In making his case, Richt, who also spoke live on ESPN, pointed out that his Bulldogs (10-2) have won six straight games, beat eight bowl-eligible teams (four that were ranked in the Top 25), including double-digit wins over Auburn (45-20) and Florida (42-30).

Richt also made it clear what he thinks would have happened had his Bulldogs played LSU in Saturday's championship game.

"I think if we could have gotten to play in the championship we certainly could have won that game, yes," Richt said. "I think we could beat LSU."

Richt pointed out other aspects about his team that the human voters should consider.

"We started three freshmen linemen. I had the feeling that we might start slow, but that we would hit our stride and that's exactly what we did," Richt said. "Besides beating Florida by double-digits, we held Kentucky to 13 points and they had been scoring 50 points on everybody.

"We've been very hot and gotten stronger as the season has gone along. Knowshon Moreno has been tremendous, Thomas Brown has come back healthy and we've got Kregg Lumpkin coming back. I just believe we're one of the two best teams in the U.S. and deserve the right to play in the (BCS Championship) game."

Richt took his argument a step further.

"We were ranked 4th in the BCS this week for a reason. (Voters) believed we belonged to be there," he said. "Everybody knew last week that we weren't going to win the conference championship but they voted us ahead of other people anyway. They voted us for a reason and I don't see why that would change."

Either way, the Bulldogs are guaranteed a berth in BCS bowl.

With the Rose Bowl likely losing Ohio State to the BCS title game, the Rose would get the first pick of at-large teams, followed presumably by the Sugar Bowl, assuming that contest would lose LSU.

The Orange and Fiesta Bowls would then follow in the selection order.

"I don't think anybody has a right to be upset if they don't get in," Richt said. "LSU was No. 1 twice, and they lost twice as the No. 1 team. We had our chances earlier in the year and we didn't come through.

"Whenever you lose a team, you lose a certain amount of control. The bottom line is - right now - is Georgia one of the two best teams in the nation today? We were voted No. 4 last week in this doggone thing. Two teams ahead of us lost, so why would that change?"

Richt and the Bulldogs will find out with the rest of the country if they made the BCS Championship game when the announcement (as well as the matchups for the four BCS bowls) is made on Fox at 8 p.m. Sunday.

Players and coaches are expected to watch the announcement from the Butts-Mehre Building.

"At first, there might have been 60 people show up," Richt said. "I guess I'm going to have to order a few more chips and sodas."



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