“I wanted to play LSU again”

ATHENS — The normally muddy picture of the college football playoffs looks relatively clear after Saturday’s results.

Georgia, however, will care little about what’s been happening around the sport or who the Bulldogs could potentially see in the College Football Playoff semifinals.

Instead, Georgia is eager to play in the SEC championship game and face off against LSU.

“We didn’t start this season trying to go 12-0. We were trying to go 15-0,” quarterback Stetson Bennett said. “We’ve got another step ahead in Atlanta next week against a really good football team in LSU.”

Related: Quotes from Senior Day by Stetson Bennett show just how far Georgia’s football program has come

The Tigers entered the weekend as No. 5 in the country. They are not ranked as high after losing to Texas A&M 38-23 on Saturday.

LSU wasn’t the only top-10 team to fall Saturday, as Ohio State, Clemson and Oregon also lost. Michigan and TCU walked away with wins as those two join Georgia with unbeaten records going into the championship weekend.

As for the No. 4, USC put on an impressive performance against Notre Dame. Should the Trojans beat Utah, the only team to defeat USC this season, the Trojans will likely secure the final playoff spot.

However, the Bulldogs are much more focused on the task at hand. It’s the second straight season that Georgia goes into the championship weekend with an undefeated record.

But last season, the Bulldogs faltered against Alabama and had to sweat out the selection on Sunday. A common topic of conversation this season has been mentioning how the Georgia 2022 team can do what the 2021 team failed to do by winning the conference title.

Saturday’s win over Georgia Tech didn’t put head coach Kirby Smart in the mood for celebration. There’s still work to be done as he – along with his team – was keen to dive into the preparation for LSU.

“I’m looking forward to watching our boys prepare for LSU,” said Smart. “They are a really good, hot football team.”

Previously under Smart, Georgia faced LSU in the SEC championship. That came back in 2019 when many of the current seniors were freshmen. The Bulldogs were beaten by Joe Burrow, Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase that day, losing 37-10.

The Georgia seniors still carry the scar tissue from that game, knowing that an SEC championship is about the only thing this group didn’t put in Georgia’s trophy case. The Bulldogs lost to Alabama in last year’s edition of this game.

LSU is also one of only two SEC teams not to beat the Bulldogs since Smart acquired it in 2016.

“I’ve always wanted to play LSU again,” said running back Kenny McIntosh. “They have a good team over there and we have a good team. I want to play hard and physical. It means a lot because in this moment we are back again. We have another opportunity to rewrite history. We want to take full advantage of this opportunity.”

Related: Kenny McIntosh gets emotional as he discusses the Monster’s Senior Day performance for Georgia football

Georgia is likely to be the No. 1 team in the College Football Playoff rankings to be released Tuesday. That’s been the case for the past three weeks since the Bulldogs beat the Tennessee Volunteers.

A win over LSU would likely give Georgia the No. 1 spot in the final College Football Playoff rankings, the one that actually counts. It would also give Georgia their first choice of where to play, which would almost certainly be the Peach Bowl.

The same venue where Georgia takes on LSU next weekend.

“I don’t need the College Football Playoff Committee or anyone to tell me how the SEC is,” Smart said. “Look, I was born and raised with it, and I know how good it is. I know how physical it is. I know how difficult it is to play in this league. It’s tough and physical week after week.”

Georgia coach Kirby Smart at the College Football Playoff, SEC Championship game

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