ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart was aware there was another so-called “Game of Century” taking place on Saturday, but he was just worried about the game of the night in Athens.
“The most important step for us in the next step, because we’re taking it one step at a time,” Smart said after his No. 6-ranked Bulldogs recorded their third shutout of the year, a 27-0 win over Missouri at Sanford Stadium.
“The program is built on being neutral, that’s where we’ll remain, and we’ve got to get better to get where we’re going, and our guys are excited about doing that.”
A trip to play the No. 11-ranked Auburn Tigers (7-2, 4-2 SEC) is on deck for Georgia (8-1, 5-1), which needs just one more SEC win to clinch what would be its third straight SEC East Division title.
Auburn, which beat Georgia the last time the teams met in Jordan-Hare Stadium in 2017, had a bye this week.
The Bulldogs haven’t had three shutouts in a season since 1981, and they are the only team in the Division I, Division ll or Division lll ranks not to allow a rushing touchdown.
But Smart said Saturday night the team is far from a finished product, playing its best football in some areas, but not others.
“We’re certainly not where we need to be,” said Smart, whose offense generated 339 total yards and scored just two touchdowns in the win over Missouri.
“We’re not where we need to be to play at the level that we need to be at to get where we want to go.”
Georgia opened the season ranked No. 3 in the preseason and stayed there until dropping a 20-17 overtime decision at home against South Carolina on Oct. 12.
There have been plenty of doubters since the loss to the Gamecocks, but Smart has stuck to his football philosophies of a balanced offense matched with his hard-nosed defense.
LSU beat Alabama 46-41 in a highly celebrated offensive shootout, while Smart’s game plans are predicated on matchups with each opponent.
The Georgia offense has been physical and patient throughout the season, in contrast to the explosive offenses LSU and the Crimson Tide run.
Smart isn’t about to change, however.
“I don’t really think about style points,” Smart said. “I just think about what we have to do to win the game and what we have to do to be more efficient and what we have to do to be at our best.”