In a weekend that saw them move closer to the SEC Championship game, the Georgia Bulldogs also inched up in the Bowl Championship Series standings.
Georgia climbed one spot to No. 5 in the latest BCS standings, released Sunday night, becoming the highest ranked one-loss team and the second highest ranked SEC team.
Alabama remained No. 1 after Saturday’s last-minute 21-17 victory at LSU. Kansas State stayed No. 2, while last week’s Nos. 3 and 4 teams swapped positions – Oregon climbing to No. 3 and Notre Dame dipping to No. 4.
Georgia replaced LSU at No. 5 after staying on track for the SEC Championship game by beating Ole Miss.
Georgia will represent the SEC East in the Dec. 1 game at the Georgia Dome if it wins at Auburn on Saturday. Alabama will represent the Western Division in the Dome if it wins either of its two remaining league games: Saturday vs. Texas A&M and Nov. 24 vs. Auburn.
The top two teams in the final BCS standings will play for the national title Jan. 7 in Miami. Georgia’s climb in the standings from a starting point of No. 11 on Oct. 14 has some fans wondering about a possible — albeit unlikely — route to the top two for the Bulldogs.
While there are no assurances in a system based on polls and computers, this is what probably would have to happen: The Bulldogs would have to win their three remaining regular-season games, would have to beat an undefeated Alabama in the SEC title game and would need two of the other three undefeated teams ranked ahead of them to lose a game.
The BCS standings include three components that count one-third each: the USA Today poll of current coaches; the Harris Interactive poll of former coaches, administrators and players and current and former media members; and an average of six computer polls.
Georgia is ranked No. 5 in the USA Today and Harris polls and No. 6 in the computers. In the Associated Press poll — not part of the BCS formula — Georgia is tied for fifth with unbeaten Ohio State, which is ineligible for the BCS because of NCAA sanctions.
The Bulldogs would have climbed one more notch in the BCS standings if Pittsburgh had pulled off an upset of Notre Dame on Saturday. But the Irish rallied from a 20-6 fourth-quarter deficit and won 29-26 in triple overtime to stay in the BCS top four. Five SEC teams are in the top eight.
Georgia (8-1, 6-1 SEC) vows to keep its focus on Saturday’s game at Auburn (2-7, 0-6).
“We’ve got to win that game,” UGA center David Andrews said, “or all those other victories don’t matter.”
While a win would put Georgia in the SEC title game for the second consecutive year, a loss would send Florida to the Dome.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity we have,” UGA receiver Tavarres King said. “To have an opportunity to go back to the Dome and win an SEC championship, it’s right there at the tips of our fingers. We’ve just got to go get it.”
– Tim Tucker