The stakes couldn't be much higher for the 8th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs.
It was just over a month ago when the proverbial sky appeared to be falling on Mark Richt's squad after a humiliating 35-14 loss to Tennessee.
However, four wins later, and the Bulldogs (8-2, 5-2) are within a cat's whisker of winning the SEC's East Division. Bowl talk has changed from Shreveport and Nashville to New Orleans and Tempe.
"It's an exciting time," freshman linebacker Rennie Curran said. "This is one of the reasons I came to Georgia. But we can't get too excited yet. There are some big games that we still need to win."
Curran couldn't be more correct.
For the Bulldogs' to entertain any thoughts of an SEC title or berth in a BCS game, Georgia must first defeat 22nd-ranked Kentucky (7-3, 3-3) in Saturday's game (12:30 p.m., Lincoln Financial).
Do that, and the Bulldogs have to hope that Tennessee loses one of its final two SEC games to either Vanderbilt (who the Vols play today at 2 p.m.), or Kentucky next weekend in Lexington.
But first things first:
"We've got to beat Kentucky, or none of this (talk) matters," Richt said. "We've got to take care of our own business before we worry about anything else."
Even if so much wasn't at stake, finding motivation would be no trouble against the Wildcats, who snapped a nine-game losing streak with a 24-20 over Georgia last year at Commonwealth-Stadium.
The Wildcats return 15 members from that particular team, although Kentucky may or may not be without the services of leading rusher Rafael Little (752 yards, three touchdowns), who is questionable after injuring his back in last week's win over Vanderbilt.
"We hope it will settle down and soreness and pain will go away so he can participate," Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said.
Little missed three games with a thigh injury before coming back to run for 70 yards against the Commodores but carried the football just once in the second half after injuring his back.
Even if he doesn't, the Wildcats still have quarterback Andre Woodson and a bevy of talented receivers, Richt said are fully capable of giving the Bulldogs fits.
"They had a good team last year. We knew that and we witnessed it firsthand what it was like to get beaten by them. It's just some other folks got to feel it this year," Richt said.
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