- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia is no longer the nation’s highest-ranked one-loss team.
The Bulldogs (9-1, 7-1 SEC) -- who clinched their second straight SEC East title with a 38-0 win at Auburn on Saturday -- remain as the No. 5 team in the BCS standings that were released on Sunday night.
Defending BCS champion Alabama (9-1, 6-1 SEC) fell from No. 1 to No. 4 after a 29-24 home loss to Texas A&M on Saturday afternoon. The Crimson Tide edged Georgia by 0.02 rating points for the fourth spot, in keeping with a prediction by Bulldogs coach Mark Richt from his postgame comments to the media after the Auburn game.
“It’s going to be close, I’m sure,” Richt said. “It’s going to be very close.”
The good news for Georgia and Alabama is that they will most likely be able to settle where they belong with a head-to-head matchup Dec. 1. Richt’s Bulldogs secured a spot in the SEC championship game Saturday and Alabama can do the same with a win of its own against Auburn in two weeks.
For now, the defending national champs lead thanks to a stronger schedule -- Jeff Sagarin, whose computer rankings form a layer of the BCS standings, ranks Alabama’s schedule the 14th-strongest and Georgia’s the 40th -- and a slightly more impressive hit list.
Alabama has wins over No. 7 LSU, No. 21 Michigan and formerly ranked Mississippi State on its resume along with a loss to No. 8 Texas A&M. Georgia has beaten No. 6 Florida and lost to No. 9 South Carolina.
Richt said he is paying attention to the rankings, but is not wasting time breaking down what must happen for his Bulldogs to reach the national championship game. Not yet, anyway.
“I’ll look at the BCS rankings. You can’t help but look at them,” Richt said. “I think everybody looks at them, but I’m not going to sit there and say, ‘If this and if that.’ We just know that if we keep winning, there’s a chance, but there’ll be who knows how many teams thinking they’ve got a chance. There’s probably still 10 teams out there thinking there’s a chance.”
The key teams in that equation are the three remaining unbeatens: No. 1 Kansas State (10-0), No. 2 Oregon (10-0) and No. 3 Notre Dame (10-0). Most likely, two of those teams must lose for a one-loss SEC champion to claim a spot in the BCS title game, despite SEC members claiming six of the top nine spots in this week’s rankings.
But for now, Georgia still must beat Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech to conclude the regular season before it can even settle its focus on Alabama or its postseason destination.
“We know we’re playing in Atlanta. We know that’s settled right now, but we know there’s a lot of work in the meantime, which is the job of getting better on a daily basis,” Richt said. “Every time you practice, you’re going to get better or worse. We’re going to try to get better and we know we’ve got some work to do as far as playing Georgia Southern this week. So that’s really where we’ve got to be thinking and keeping our minds because if you don’t do that, then all that other stuff doesn’t mean much.”
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