Arizona State’s fall out of The Associated Press Top 25 on Sunday seemed to bother Mark Richt more than seeing his Georgia team drop one spot to No. 3.
Georgia, No. 1 in the AP preseason poll, has dropped two spots despite winning its first three games. The last team to fall from No. 1 in the preseason to No. 3 after a 3-0 start was Oklahoma in 1985.
“I’m really not worried about it,” Richt said Sunday. “We can’t control it. We can control trying to win the (SEC’s) Eastern Division.
“When you set goals, you try to set goals you can control. To win the Eastern Division is really the only thing you can control in this whole thing, and you can control winning every game you play in.”
Georgia (3-0) beat South Carolina 14-7 on Saturday in the Bulldogs’ Southeastern Conference opener. The low score was typical for the series.
“We understand this game and a lot of SEC games are going to be close,” said Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford. “We’re not going to blow out a lot of SEC teams 50-10 or whatever.”
Oklahoma, which won 55-14 at Washington, moved past Georgia to No. 2.
“I’m not surprised that it could happen, because you’ve seen it happen before,” Richt said of the changes high in the poll. “Everybody wants to kind of settle in and see where everybody thinks everybody belongs. It’s hard. Shoot, I’m a voter too. It’s hard on everybody.”
Arizona State (2-1) was No. 15 before falling 23-20 in overtime to UNLV.
“I wish they’d won it just so maybe they’d be flying a little higher right now,” said Richt of the Sun Devils. “They’ll probably have a little chip on their shoulder and be a little tougher to match up against.”
Arizona State’s surprise loss may have taken some of the luster of what was expected to be a matchup of Top 25 teams.
Richt noted his team doesn’t have to worry about the lost opportunity to impress voters by how they fare against another ranked team. Sunday’s poll included four more SEC teams in the Top 10, and all are on Georgia’s schedule: No. 4 Florida, No. 6 LSU, No. 9 Alabama and No. 10 Auburn.
“We do want to win every game that we can and put ourselves into position to possibly be there at the end if we are able to win the league,” Richt said. “So much time has got to pass and so many games have got to be played, and we all know we have the type of schedule that will put us back in business if we are able to take care of business.
“The question is are we going to be able to take care of business. That’s true of everybody, though.”
The SEC said this is the first time it has had five teams in the top 10 of the AP poll.
Georgia hasn’t played as far west as Tempe, Ariz., in a regular-season game in 48 years. Richt was only a few months old when the Bulldogs played at Southern Cal in 1960.
Georgia will travel west again next season when it opens at Oklahoma State.
“We decided when the 12th game rolled around we were going to go ahead and play a BCS team that was outside of our region,” Richt said.
“The bottom line was we wanted to do ... play a game on the other side of the country and give our players the experience and our fans the experience and allow the other side of the country to maybe take a little more notice of Georgia and not look at them as such a regional team.”