AUBURN, Ala. — Kirby Smart didn’t have much to say after the game about clinching the SEC East Division for a third straight season.
But what the fourth-year Georgia football head coach did say to his players in the locker room after a breathtaking 21-14 victory at Auburn resonated.
“I told them, ‘How ‘bout them F*****n Dawgs!’ ” Smart said. “That’s what I told them. Excuse my language.”
The No. 4-ranked Bulldogs (9-1, 6-1) held on to beat No. 12 Auburn (7-3, 4-3) at Jordan-Hare Stadium, turning away two fourth-quarter drives after the Tigers rallied from 21-0 down.
Georgia dominated the first three quarters before the Tigers and freshman QB Bo Nix got hot in the fourth quarter.
Nix threw for 123 of his 245 yards (30-of-50 passing) in the final 15 minutes of action.
“Our kids were very resilient to come into this place, lose momentum, and be able to go back out and get it back shows some fortitude and the ability to handle adversity,” Smart said.
“I’m really proud of our guys. With all of that said, it’s on to the next one. Texas A&M has a great team, a great program and we’ve got to get better. We’re not where we need to be.”
Smart can be excused for cutting loose with his team, as the Bulldogs have had their backs to the wall since a 20-17 overtime loss to South Carolina on Oct. 12.
This was a team that started the season ranked No. 3 in the preseason with College Football Playoff aspirations, and frankly, nothing less will satisfy the fanbase or the players.
The No. 1-ranked LSU Tigers are most likely going to be waiting for Georgia in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 7.
But Smart made it clear his team has work to do before that matchup.
Smart explained that’s why he’s purposely downplaying winning the SEC East Division for a third-straight time — a feat matched only by former Florida coach Steve Spurrier (1994-96).
“I didn’t say anything about the SEC East because that wasn’t the goal coming in here, you know what I mean?” Smart said.
“The goal for us was to continue to get better, grow, play in a tough environment,” Smart said. “But it really wasn’t about the SEC East. That’s a hell of an accomplishment, and I’m proud of our guys, but that’s not what it’s about.”
Georgia plays host to Texas A&M at 3:30 p.m. next Saturday at Sanford Stadium before closing the regular season on the road at Georgia Tech.