AUBURN, Ala. -- Earlier this week, Georgia coach Mark Richt acted like a reporter had lost his mind when asked if there was a chance the fifth-ranked Bulldogs might not be focused for Saturday night's game against struggling Auburn.
It turns out Richt knew his team better than some might have thought.
Against its longtime SEC rival, Georgia (9-1, 7-1) started quickly and never let up, racing past the Tigers 38-0 to win the East Division title and claim a spot in the league championship game set for Dec. 1 in the Georgia Dome for the second consecutive year.
Exactly who the Bulldogs will play, however, won't be known until Nov. 24 when Alabama plays host to Auburn (2-8, 0-6) in the annual Iron Bowl.
The Crimson Tide could have sewn up the SEC West on Saturday but were upset 29-24 by Texas A&M in Tuscaloosa.
Auburn, meanwhile, continues to suffer through its worst season in recent memory, a loss that will no doubt add to speculation on whether or not Tigers coach Gene Chizik will be able to keep his job.
Richt, whose own seat has been warm in recent years, has no such concerns, other than to make sure his team can stay focused and healthy for its two remaining regular-season games against Georgia Southern on Nov. 17 and Georgia Tech on Nov. 24.
Saturday's game was never in question.
Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray was spectacular, completing 18 of 24 passes for 208 yards and three first-half touchdowns before being replaced to start the fourth quarter by backup Parker Welch.
Murray had plenty of help. Freshmen running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall rushed for 116 and 105 yards, respectively, with one touchdown apiece. Marshall's touchdown came on a 62-yard run.
Auburn managed only 153 total yards against the Bulldogs.
It didn't take Georgia long to take control.
After forcing a three-and-out on the opening possession, the Bulldogs took the punt and promptly drove 76 yards on just six plays to grab a 7-0 lead.
A 49-yard run by Gurley sparked the drive, which culminated with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Murray to wide receiver Chris Conley.
That was just the beginning.
The Bulldogs added three more touchdowns in the half -- two on touchdown passes of 5 yards to Malcolm Mitchell and 17 yards to Tavarres King -- before a 6-yard run by Gurley sent Georgia into the locker room up 28-0.
Murray's first half was as sharp as he'd been all year. The junior completed 16 of 20 passes for 186 yards and the three scores, and Gurley led all rushers in the opening two quarters with six carries for 77 yards.
Auburn, meanwhile, could only muster 124 yards of offense in the first half, all but 11 coming from freshman Jonathan Wallace, who was respectable in completing 8 of 10 passes for 113 yards.
NOTES: Sophomore Mark Beard made his first career start at left tackle for Georgia. with Kenarious Gates moving to left guard and Dallas Lee to right guard. Starting right guard Chris Burnette did not make the trip because of an injured shoulder. ... Joshua Holsey and Jonathon Mincy started at cornerback for the Tigers. ... Murray had to come out for one play in the second quarter after having the breath knocked out of him. Backup Parker Welch subbed for one play before Murray returned.