ATHENS, Ga. -- While Georgia and Auburn were kicking off their football game Saturday afternoon at Sanford Stadium, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier was addressing the media following a win over Florida.
"We'll see how Georgia plays when they know they have to win," Spurrier said. "I have a feeling something good is going to happen to us."
Something good will have to be Kentucky.
Georgia is now just inches away from the Southeastern Conference East Division championship after a resounding 45-7 rout of Auburn that Bulldogs coach Mark Richt quickly put in his top five triumphs at home. Aaron Murray completed 14 of 18 passes for 224 yards and four touchdowns for the Bulldogs, who must defeat the woeful Wildcats this week inside Sanford to capture their first East crown since 2005.
The Wildcats will hobble in following Saturday's 38-8 loss at Vanderbilt.
"It's a new week, and all I know is that tomorrow we're going to start preparing to play for the SEC East championship," Bulldogs defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said.
South Carolina concluded its SEC schedule at 6-2, defeating Florida 17-12. The Bulldogs are 8-2 overall with eight consecutive wins and are 6-1 in league play, having won six straight league games in a season for the first time since 1982.
Though Bulldogs players are not wanting to take Kentucky for granted, Auburn quarterback Clint Moseley does not believe a Georgia-LSU pairing in the Georgia Dome would be a mismatch. LSU defeated Auburn 45-10 on Oct. 22.
"Both teams know how to play defense," Moseley said. "I don't want to cause anything by making a prediction, but it will be a great game."
Moseley was clearly the other quarterback Saturday, as Murray was dazzling from the start. He attempted only two second-half passes after completing 13 of 16 in the first 30 minutes for 216 yards and four touchdowns.
Freshman receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who had been out since the Oct. 8 win at Tennessee with a hamstring pull, returned to catch three first-half passes for 85 yards and a 25-yard touchdown that made it 35-7 with five minutes left in the half. That was the fourth and final aerial score for Murray, whose 27 touchdown passes this season broke the school mark of 25 set by Matthew Stafford in 2008.
"We came out today with the right mindset and not worrying about South Carolina winning or losing," Murray said. "All three facets of our game played unbelievable. It was a pretty fun first half offensively, and I just think today was definitely our most complete game."
Said offensive coordinator Mike Bobo: "I thought Aaron was outstanding in the first half. There was some tight coverage, and he was putting it in places where our guy could make the play."
So efficient was Georgia's offense that it opened by making seven straight third-down conversions.
"I knew we converted a lot, because we scored on our first four possessions," said Murray, whose 51 career touchdown passes matches Stafford's three-year total.
Georgia also had two 100-yard rushers -- Isaiah Crowell and Carlton Thomas -- and held Auburn to 195 total yards. The Bulldogs performed well in special teams, which left Richt to admit, "I can't think of anything tonight I wasn't happy with."
Obviously it was a different feeling in the locker room of the defending national champions, who are 6-4 overall and 4-3 in league play.
"We got beat in every phase of the game," Tigers coach Gene Chizik said. "We didn't cover many people all night, couldn't stop the run, and we turned the ball over. That's why we got beat 45-7."
For the first time in 50 years, Auburn has lost two games in the same season by 30 or more points.
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 ...