November 29, 2011

Do Dawgs have a chance?

If you believe the pundits, Georgia coach Mark Richt has a better chance of becoming the next spokesman for your favorite beer than his 12th-ranked Bulldogs have of beating top-ranked LSU for the SEC Championship Saturday at the Georgia Dome.

The Las Vegas odds-makers certainly aren't giving the Bulldog Nation much hope, either.

LSU opened as a 10-point favorite to beat the Bulldogs for the SEC crown, sports books at MGM currently list the Bulldog as a 13.5 underdog, while Harrah's lists the unbeaten Tigers as a 14-point choice.

On sports talk show throughout the South, most are giving the Bulldogs (10-2) absolutely no chance against the vaunted Tigers, suggesting that Georgia will have to play a perfect game and still get some help just to throw a scare into Les Miles' squad.

So, what do the Bulldogs have to say about that?

"We've just got to come out with the mentality that we're not scared, that we're not intimidated and we're not going to be bullied," quarterback Aaron Murray said. "We deserve to be there just like they do, so we're going to go out there with that mentality, that we're going to make plays and have some fun."

Georgia players acknowledge that they have to play their best game to date.

"We will have to plan a darn-near perfect game but I think we're capable of doing that," wide receiver Michael Bennett said. "I'm excited to see what we're going to be able to do."

Offensive guard Chris Burnette agreed.

"To be the best, you've got to beat the best," Burnette said. "I don't feel we've got to play a perfect game, but we do have to play probably the best game we've played all season. LSU is the best team in the country and for us to have the opportunity to play them is awesome. We know they're the team to beat, we understand that, but we have a great plan together. The coaches do a great job of coming up with a plan; it's going to be up to us to carry it out."

There's already been a lot of talk about the two defenses, which statistically not only rank among the best in the SEC, but in the country as well.

LSU actually ranks second nationally behind Alabama, while Georgia comes in at No. 5, although many suggest that the Bulldogs' numbers are somewhat skewed because they didn't play a schedule as tough as the Tigers, with wins over Oregon, West Virginia and Alabama among its 12 victories.

Linebacker Mike Gilliard isn't one of those people.

"I mean, this is the SEC. Playing in the SEC East, there are good players here," Gilliard said. "People are going to have their opinions, but we're here right now."

It's not like the Bulldogs haven't played a total game before.

Georgia's 45-7 rout of then-ranked Auburn was a total shellacking, an effort Murray said he'd like to take to the Georgia Dome against LSU.

Then again, it's not like the Bulldogs don't try to play a "perfect game" every time they take the field.

"We always pressure ourselves to play great. I don't think you go into any game thinking you just want to play mediocre, that half your reps are going to be great and half your reps are going to be fair," Murray said. "I think we've gone into every game thinking this is the best game we're going to play. We just have to have that same mentality this week and keep doing what we've been doing."

With 10 straight wins, Murray said the Bulldogs are doing something right.

"We've been getting better every week as a team," Murray said. "We may do a little bit extra film study and preparation but I'm confident our guys are ready to go and have a great game."