AUBURN, Ala. - There was certainly an ample amount of celebrating in the Georgia locker room after the fifth-ranked Bulldogs beat Auburn 38-0 Saturday night to wrap up their second-straight Eastern Division crown.
But the way senior receiver Tavarres King saw it, there's a different feeling to the situation as compared to this time a year ago.
"It's not as satisfying," King said. "I feel like last year our goal was just to get to the SEC Championship. This year, it's to win it, we want to win it. We just don't want to be there. It doesn't even compare."
It's easy to see where King is coming from.
Last year, the Bulldogs (9-1, 7-1) were just happy to meeting LSU in the Georgia Dome, although they weren't feeling quite so chipper after the Tigers laid a 42-10 whipping on Georgia en route to the BCS title game.
Head coach Mark Richt tends to agree.
"We had fun celebrating the victory and winning the East," Richt said. "But I think there's a little different feeling in everybody's spirit in that Atlanta is not the end of the road."
So what's next?
Most experts figured the West Division champ would have been decided Saturday as well, but Texas A&M had other ideas when it beat defending national champ Alabama 29-24 earlier in Tuscaloosa earlier in the day.
"For me, it just proves my theory. People talk about people being great, teams being great - this is the SEC and anybody can slip up on anybody at any time," King said. "Texas A&M is great, Alabama is great. You just never know what's going to happen."
However, the Crimson Tide (9-1, 6-1) remain Georgia's likely opponent in the title game set for Dec. 1, assuming it can beat Auburn in the Iron Bowl on Nov. 24.
"I don't know. We've just got to keep progressing and improving," Richt said. "We'll just see. I'm not going to try and predict what's going to happen. I'm just going say we're going to try and do a better job than we did a year ago."
Georgia, which was fifth in last week's BCS standings, will advance to no worse than the Sugar Bowl should it win the SEC crown. With a little help, an even larger prize might be available.
"I look at what's going on in college football. I always look at college football," said Richt, when asked if he pays attention to the BCS standings. "You can't help but look, but I'm not going to sit here and go what if this and what if that. If we keep winning, there's a chance. But there are probably 10 other teams who feel the same way."
Dawgs won't rest starters
Just because Georgia has its berth in the SEC title game wrapped up, don't look for the Bulldogs to start limiting reps to some of its key players.
"We're not going to rest anybody," Richt said. "We know we've got some great teams to play, teams that can run up and down the field on you and it's going to be a great challenge to change gears a little defensively."
Georgia's next two games are against Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech - two teams who run the triple-option.
"It's totally different to defend what we're about to see and I don't know if it's a good thing to play those in a row or not," Richt said. "You'd think it might be good to get a chance to perfect or at least as close as you can, but also you've got to play two defensive games in a row like you've never had to play all year."
The Bulldogs appeared to escape Saturday's game relatively unscathed as far as injuries go.
However, starting right guard Chris Burnette did not make the trip while he recovers from the shoulder injury he sustained last week against Ole Miss.
Fullback Merritt Hall (ankle) traveled with the team but did not play.
Fifth time to the Dome
Saturday's victory puts Georgia in the title game in Atlanta for the fifth time under Richt, and second in a row.
The Bulldogs are 2-2 in those games, winning in 2002 and 2005.
Richt's overall record at UGA is now 115-39 (69-31 in SEC).The shutout was the first by the Bulldogs against Auburn since 1978 when they won 28-0 in Auburn. And the 38-point margin of victory equaled last year's 45-7 victory in Athens.
Overall, the shutout was the seventh in the Richt era.
This and that
Alec Ogletree led the team with 10 stops and one sack, followed by senior safety Bacarri Rambo with eight tackles and an interception. Junior linebacker Jarvis Jones had four tackles and two sacks tonight. Jones has 10.5 sacks for the year and 24 in his Bulldog career. For Rambo, it was his 15th career interception, one shy of the school mark held by Jake Scott (1967-68). Neither turnover led to any points.
King wore jersey number 15 tonight instead of his number 12 to honor senior Marlon Brown who saw his collegiate career end last Saturday due to an ACL injury.
Since the first year of SEC football (1933), the UGA-AU rivalry has decided the conference fate of one or both of the teams 21 times, whether it was a division crown or overall title. The Bulldogs are now 12-8-1 in these games. This was the first time since 2002 when Georgia came to Auburn with the Eastern Division crown and a trip to Atlanta on the line, and it has won both times. In the overall series history, Georgia has evened it now at 54-54-8 including winning six out of the last seven. This is the seventh most played rivalry in NCAA FBS and tonight was the 120th year it has been played as it dates back to 1892.
Georgia returns to action Saturday when the Bulldogs host Georgia Southern at 1:30 p.m.