Georgia has a view from the top for the first time in six years.
Mark Richt just hopes it's not brief.
Richt's Bulldogs ascended to the summit of the Southeastern Conference East Division standings Saturday night when South Carolina fell 44-28 at Arkansas. Georgia, which has not controlled its divisional destiny in November since last winning it in 2005, is alone in the East with a 5-1 league mark but faces longtime rival Auburn this week at Sanford Stadium.
"I know we all understand what's at stake and that we are in a better position now and that we do control our destiny," Richt said Sunday afternoon. "We've been fighting like mad from the moment South Carolina beat us, but the thing that has gotten us this far is, on a weekly basis, just trying to take care of business. Our focus has got to be for every man to do his job."
Saturday's Auburn-Georgia game will be televised by CBS with a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.
The Bulldogs can clinch the East this week with a win over Auburn coupled with a South Carolina loss to visiting Florida, a game that will be shown by CBS at noon. Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks can clinch the East as well Saturday by defeating Florida and having Auburn dump Georgia.
South Carolina had been tied with Georgia atop the East and had held the tiebreaker by virtue of its 45-42 win in Athens on Sept. 10, but the Gamecocks dropped to 5-2 in SEC play in Fayetteville. The first SEC team to defeat the Gamecocks this year was Auburn, which won 16-13 in Columbia on Oct. 1.
"We realize that if we can beat Florida that we still have a chance to win the SEC East," Spurrier said Sunday. "Georgia would have to win two games in a row, and if they can win seven SEC games in a row, then we would congratulate them and go from there. The only thing we need to think about is trying to play our best against Florida this week."
Should Georgia wind up closing out the season with seven straight SEC victories, defeating Auburn on Saturday and Kentucky on Nov. 19, it would be its largest such streak since winning 23 in a row from 1980-83.
South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw suffered a concussion against Arkansas and will not practice today or tomorrow. Spurrier said a decision on Shaw's availability against the Gators would be made Wednesday or Thursday.
Three more years
Spurrier said after Saturday's game that he planned to coach the Gamecocks at least three more years, and he was asked about that Sunday.
"I've been saying three or four for about the last 10 years, so I'm still saying that," Spurrier said. "We've got a good team here, and we have not reached our pinnacle. Hopefully we can get there real soon. We think we've recruited well."
At 51-35 late in his seventh season, Spurrier already is the second winningest coach in South Carolina history.
Odds and ends
Richt believes freshman receiver Malcolm Mitchell (hamstring), who hasn't played since the Oct. 8 win at Tennessee, to play this week. ... The Bulldogs are 6-4 against Auburn under Richt but trail the all-time series 54-52-8.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...