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Richt hopes to avoid another Top 25 drop

POSTED: November 4, 2007 5:04 a.m.

ATHENS — Georgia impressed poll voters by beating Florida last week.

Georgia could impress its coach by backing up the votes of confidence.

The Bulldogs' wild ride up and down the Top 25 in September and October included two drops of 12 spots in the poll. Georgia shot up from No. 20 to No. 10 this week, and now coach Mark Richt is looking for stability in November.

With three straight home games, beginning with Saturday's visit from Troy, it's time to see if Georgia finally can handle prosperity.

"I've talked to the guys," Richt said. "Here we are again in a good position. What are we going to do now?

"We were here after Oklahoma State. We were here after Alabama. By the grace of God, here we are again. What are we going to do now? Are we just going to let it fall by the wayside or do something nutty or can we sustain this thing?"

Georgia's four remaining regular-season opponents have a combined 23-11 record, and Troy (6-2) comes to Athens Saturday with a six-game winning streak.

Georgia will face Auburn on Nov. 10 and Kentucky on Nov. 17. It closes its regular season at Georgia Tech on Nov. 24.

Richt has good reason to wonder if his team can hold a top 10 ranking. Georgia tumbled after its two previous visits to the top 12.

Georgia (6-2 overall, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) was No. 11 after an opening win over Oklahoma State, but it fell to No. 23 following a loss to South Carolina. It beat Alabama and Mississippi to move to No. 12 but fell to No. 24 with a loss to Tennessee.

Last week's 42-30 victory over then-No. 9 Florida gave Georgia its biggest one-week jump in the poll this year. Georgia has the highest ranking of any two-loss team in the nation. It also is No. 10 in the coaches' poll and the Bowl Championship Series ranking.

Asks Richt: Now what?

"We know as much as last week made a difference, this week can make as big a difference," he said. "They may just forget all about us this week if we don't take care of business."

Georgia can contend for a New Year's Day bowl, but the Bulldogs have learned not to look ahead.

"We try not to worry about that," said defensive tackle Corvey Irvin. "We want to take it one day at a time and one team at a time and at the end all that will tell for itself."

Georgia leads the SEC's Eastern Division, but it needs help to reach the Dec. 1 SEC championship game. Tennessee (5-3, 3-2) must lose another conference game if Georgia is to have a chance to win the SEC title.

Linebacker Marcus Washington said he didn't know that Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Kentucky are the SEC teams left on Tennessee's schedule.

"I'm not sure who they have left," Washington said. "All I know is we've got to win. It doesn't matter who they've got left if we don't win."

There are seven SEC teams in this week's Top 25, but only three — Louisiana State, Florida and Georgia — have been ranked every week.

Like Georgia, South Carolina has endured dramatic swings, beginning the season unranked before climbing to No. 6 and falling back to No. 23. Similarly, Kentucky began the year unranked, climbed to No. 8 but now is out of the poll. Florida climbed to No. 3 but now is No. 18.

LSU has been the league's most consistent force, remaining in the top 5 each week.

Georgia has rebounded after two dramatic tumbles to the bottom of the Top 25. The Bulldogs have their highest ranking of the season.

Richt has challenged the team's leaders to build on the momentum of the win over Florida.

Asked Richt: "Are we still the team whose leaders didn't keep the ball rolling when they had it rolling?"



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