ATHENS, Ga. -- Following its 45-14 win against Georgia Southern on Saturday and a major shakeup atop the BCS rankings, No. 3 Georgia has the ability to play for a BCS championship.
Thanks to big contributions from several players who remain atop this week’s UGA Power Rankings, the Bulldogs (10-1) continued their ascent in the polls by blowing past Georgia Southern (8-3) in the third quarter on Saturday. Now they must handle rival Georgia Tech (6-5) this weekend and the SEC West champion -- most likely No. 2 Alabama (10-1) -- in the SEC championship game to play for a national title for the first time since the early 1980s.
Let’s review the Georgia 10 through 11 games (last week’s rank in parentheses):
1. Jarvis Jones (1): Because Georgia Southern passed only four times, Jones didn’t have many opportunities to add to his total of 10.5 sacks. But he recorded six tackles, his 18th tackle for a loss of the season and forced a fumble against the Eagles -- his sixth of the season -- to maintain the FBS leads with 0.67 forced fumbles and two tackles-for-loss per game.
2. Aaron Murray (2): After going 18-for-28 for 330 yards and four touchdowns against the Eagles, Murray closed within 14 yards of becoming the first quarterback in SEC history to pass for 3,000 in three consecutive seasons. Murray leads the nation with a 174.33 passer rating.
3. Todd Gurley (3): Gurley rushed for 68 yards and a touchdown against GSU, giving him 1,041 yards this season. That made him only the second true freshman in school history -- joining Herschel Walker (1980) -- to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season. Gurley is one of three FBS freshmen who have eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark along with Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel (1,114 yards) and Louisiana Tech’s Kenneth Dixon (1,161).
4. Alec Ogletree (4): Another game, another week that Ogletree led the Bulldogs in tackles. His 12 stops against GSU -- plus a tackle for a loss and a fumble recovery -- marked the fifth time in the seven games in which he appeared and the 10th time in his last 12 games that Ogletree led the Bulldogs in tackles. Despite missing the first four games on suspension, Ogletree is now second on the team with 72 stops, trailing Shawn Williams by just one tackle.
5. Malcolm Mitchell (6): Mitchell is back to ranking among the Bulldogs’ top offensive weapons. By scoring on a 24-yard pass from Murray with 4 seconds left in the first half against GSU, Mitchell has notched a touchdown in each of the last four games. He is tied for the team lead with 33 catches and ranks third with 444 receiving yards, although he barely played receiver at all in the first four games.
6. Tavarres King (8): The senior wideout continued his climb up the program’s receiving charts by hauling in his eighth touchdown pass of the season and 20th of his career against the Eagles. King is tied with Fred Gibson for third in Georgia history in career touchdown catches and is fifth with 2,337 career receiving yards.
7. Bacarri Rambo (5): As with Jones, Rambo’s skills against opponent passing games didn’t come in handy against Georgia Southern. But the senior safety still played a role against the Eagles’ option rushing attack, tying for fifth on the team with six tackles.
8. John Jenkins (7): Jenkins and the defensive line did a good job against Georgia Southern’s running game and cut-blocking schemes. He finished with three tackles against the Eagles.
9. Shawn Williams (9): Senior safety Williams tied for third on the team with seven tackles against the Eagles. He leads the Bulldogs with 73 tackles -- one more than he had in the entire 2011 season, when he led the team in stops.
10. Garrison Smith (NR): Smith filled in admirably when senior defensive end Abry Jones went down for at least the rest of the regular season with an ankle injury. Smith’s solid play was a key factor in containing the Eagles’ rushing attack, as he tied with Williams for third on the team with seven tackles, recorded a tackle for a loss and recovered a fumble.