Georgia coach Kirby Smart too busy to notice or care about No. 1 CFP Ranking
ATHENS — A No. 1-ranking would be — and has been — a cause for celebration at other schools across the country.
There was a time at Georgia that a No. 1-ranking signified something special too.
Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart, however, made it clear that time has passed when asked for his action to Georgia vaulting back to the top of the College Football Playoff Rankings on Tuesday night after a dominant 27-13 win over Tennessee.
“No reaction, I didn’t even see it to be honest with you,” Smart said. “We work pretty late on Tuesdays.”
Georgia was ranked No. 1 in all five CFP rankings in 2021 leading up to the SEC Championship Game.
Further, Smart has elevated the program to the point where it has been ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in 25 of the last 27 AP Polls, spending the other two weeks at No. 3.
Besides, Smart knows better than anyone that the CFP rankings don’t matter until the final set of them are released the day after the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 4, as they will set up the matchups and game locations.
The semifinal sites this season are in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta or State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., leading up to the CFP Championship Game at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
But the Bulldogs have more hurdles to clear before they make travel plans, looking to finish off what would be a second consecutive undefeated regular season with games at Mississippi State, at Kentucky and at home against Georgia Tech.
Smart has been to Starkville a handful of times as a member of the Alabama coaching staff under Nick Saban— and once as a Georgia player in 1996.
The seventh-year Bulldogs’ head coach knows that a potentially hostile environment awaits the Bulldogs in the 7 p.m. game under the lights on Saturday.
“Our guys are busy at work and getting ready to go to Starkville and play in a difficult environment,” Smart said on the SEC Coaches Teleconference on Wednesday.
The last meeting between the teams in 2020 turned into an instant classic that went right down to the wire before Georgia won 31-24.
Mississippi State QB Will Rogers — who currently leads the SEC in passing yards — made his first career start that night and was 41-of-52 for 336 yards and a TD in Sanford Stadium amid Covid attendance restrictions.
Mississippi State’s defense, meanwhile, stoned Zamir White (11 carries, 21 yards) and a vaunted UGA offensive line filled with future NFL players.
Former Georgia quarterback JT Daniels made his debut with the Bulldogs that night, passing for 401 yards passing with the Bulldogs unable to get their run game going.
Smart said Mississippi State’s defense is still tough, led by third-year coordinator Zach Arnett.
The Maroon Bulldogs play with “physicality and aggression,” Smart said.
“They understand their system, they get after the quarterback, and do a really good job of mixing things up.”
That’s why the only numbers that matter to Smart this week are those worn by the Mississippi State players, as he looks for his coaching staff to dial up a game plan that will keep Georgia unbeaten.