Bulldogs decide to wear black for only third time ever

ATHENS, Ga. -- For only the second time in the regular season -- and third time overall --the University of Georgia will wear black during a regular-season football game.

Georgia coach Mark Richt said in a news conference Sunday that, at the request of his seniors, the Bulldogs will wear black instead of the traditional red against Alabama in a matchup of top-10 teams (ESPN, 7:45 p.m. ET).

The Bulldogs wore black last November against Auburn, and again in the Sugar Bowl against Hawaii. Georgia won big in both games.

"I don't think you do it too much, but our fans really enjoyed it [and] our players certainly enjoyed it [last year]," Richt said. "I thought of the outstanding success as far as the fans buying into the request of the seniors [to wear black] and the fans just having a ball with it. I would think they would get excited about the blackout again."

Richt, who said his players made the request while flying back from a 27-10 win at Arizona State on Saturday, has asked fans to wear black as well to the game at Sanford Stadium.

Georgia finishes a rugged three-game stretch of games with the date against Alabama.
Georgia began the stretch with an ugly 14-7 victory at South Carolina a week ago and progressed through a decisive triumph in Tempe, where red-clad Dawgs fanatics made up perhaps a fifth of the crowd of 72,955.

Georgia sailed through its first regular-season trip to the West since a 1960 visit to Los Angeles to play Southern California.

"Right now, I like where we are if we keep understanding that we've got a ways to go," Richt said Saturday night before the Bulldogs boarded a charter plane for the long flight home. "It's nice to be 4-0 and not to have played your best game or I guess what you would envision to be your best game. I do believe we are improving in the right areas. We've still got some problems we've got to iron out."

Georgia opened the season atop The Associated Press Top 25 but twice slipped a spot after victories. The pollsters were more forgiving after watching Georgia dominate on national television.

The Bulldogs remained third in Sunday's Associated Press Top 25, but they edged within nine points of No. 2 Oklahoma, a gain of 39 points from a week ago.

Richt said he gave little thought to "making a statement" for the pollsters.

"I was just worried about winning the game," he said. "I wanted to get over here, win the game, get home for another SEC contest."

Indeed, Georgia's relatively easy victory in the desert raised a question: How good can the Bulldogs be? Given the opponent and the venue, Richt called this his team's most complete victory. But the Bulldogs say they can play much better.

"I think we're still maturing as a football team, and have got to get better in some areas," quarterback Matthew Stafford said. "We put a good game together this week. We're definitely going to have to show up next week. Alabama's a heck of a football team, on a roll right now."

Georgia was far from perfect against ASU (2-2). The most glaring line on the stat sheet was Georgia's 12 penalties for 104 yards.

Bulldogs penalties contributed 40 of the 75 yards Arizona State drove for a field goal in the second quarter.

The overmatched Sun Devils couldn't make Georgia pay for its carelessness. But that might change against tougher SEC opposition.

The Bulldogs have struggled offensively at times this year, but they put it all together in a 21-point second-quarter burst. Knowshon Moreno, who finished with 149 yards, ran for two touchdowns and Green caught a 14-yard scoring pass from Stafford.

The Bulldogs sacked Arizona State quarterback Rudy Carpenter four times and harried him on numerous other occasions. The Sun Devils mustered their lowest home point total since a 35-7 loss to New Mexico State in 1999.

Georgia climbed nine spots, to No. 18, in national scoring defense. The Bulldogs are giving up 13.75 points per game and have conceded two touchdowns and a field goal in their past eight quarters, both in hostile road stadiums.

Now Georgia goes home to Sanford Stadium, where it has lost at least one game each of the past four years. Alabama's visit will attract plenty of national attention, but it's hardly the end of the road for Georgia.

No. 21 Vanderbilt comes to Athens on Oct. 18, and Georgia visits fifth-ranked LSU the following week.

Then comes the Nov. 1 battle with fourth-ranked Florida in Jacksonville, which could decide the SEC Eastern Division. On Nov. 15, Georgia plays at No. 15 Auburn.

"From here on out, it's not going to be any easier, so we've really got to stay focused, work on these penalties and keep on making plays," Moreno said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.