Athens — Georgia ranks 14 spots behind LSU in this week’s Associated Press college football poll.
And yet oddsmakers have No. 18 Georgia as a 3-point favorite over No. 4 LSU on Saturday.
Anybody else find that strange?
I asked Mark Richt after practice Wednesday.
“Who’s favored? We’re favored?” he replied. ” I didn’t know we’re favored. I guess it’s just the home field –- I guess [that] is what they’re thinking. I think they think both teams are good football teams.”
Or maybe, given that four top-10 teams lost last week, there’s a sense that there’s not much difference between No. 4 and No. 18 anyway?
“This time of year, you don’t know,” Richt said. “We’ll find out Saturday. We’ll find out Saturday.”
A voter in the USA Today coaches’ poll, Richt admits he had a hard time filling out his ballot last weekend.
With the four losses among top-10 teams, he grabbed some scratch paper and started trying to rank teams as if there had been no previous polls this season.
“I just couldn’t sleep, I guess,” he said, “so I started to go: If there was no preseason rank, just who’s undefeated? Who have they beaten? Is there some signature victory in here somewhere? Who should be No. 1 just based on who they’ve beaten? And then of the one-loss teams, who did they lose to and did they have a signature win or two?
“And then I ranked it that way, and I looked at it, and I’m, like, ‘If I call this in, they’re going to think I’m out of my mind.’
“Then I went back and did it the old-fashioned way,” which basically is use the previous poll as a starting point and move teams up or down based on the latest results.
“The reason I can do it that way and have peace is, I always know as the season wears on it works itself out,” Richt said. ” . . . But if there wasn’t a preseason poll or if no one had tradition or no one had this and that, it’d be interesting to see what everybody’s poll would look like.”
While one UGA freshman receiver, Rantavious Wooten, made his first and second collegiate catches last week, another, Marlon Brown, still awaits his first opportunity.
“I actually spoke to him today and said, ‘You just keep working and keep improving,’” Richt said after Wednesday’s practice. “And I’m seeing tremendous improvement in Marlon. He is smoothing his game out, and it’s coming. It’s coming. [Freshman tight end] Artie Lynch, same way –- Artie is a guy who is improving rapidly. Their futures are very, very bright.”
The reason Wooten got an opportunity ahead of Brown and, for that matter, Israel Troupe comes down simply to performance in practice.