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Little by little, closer to BCS clarity

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- As his giddy players made their way up the tunnel and into the football Mardi Gras that was Georgia's locker room, Bulldogs coach Mark Richt spotted UGA athletic director Greg McGarity near the door.

Richt, with a smirk and deadpan tone, said, "That was fun."

You could say the same thing about Shakedown Saturday.

Richt's 10th-ranked UGA team beat No. 2 Florida 17-9 in a game that set back the sport by centuries. It was almost as painful as having to watch the regular tenants of EverBank Field, the Jacksonville Jaguars.

There were nine turnovers -- six by Florida, three by Georgia. There were 24 penalties -- 10 by Florida, 14 by Georgia. There was nearly a pregame and an in-game rumble.

It was unwatchable and compelling all at the same time. You didn't know whether to lean forward in your seat or switch to an infomercial for ear wax dissolver.

"I'm just glad we knocked them out," said Georgia linebacker Jordan Jenkins.

Yes, once-unbeaten Florida is BCS championship history. And it isn't the only one.

No. 7 Oregon State was eliminated from national title chatter. Unranked Washington did the honors.

No. 8 Oklahoma can smooch its longshot BCS hopes goodbye. OU was a double-digit favorite against No. 5 Notre Dame at home -- and saw its Boomer Sooner wagon wheels fall off. ND won huge, 30-13.

USC is officially done, too. The ninth-ranked Trojans lost to unranked Arizona 39-36 in Tucson. A 26-0 second-half run by the Wildcats doomed a USC team picked No. 1 in the preseason AP poll.

Rutgers entered its game against Kent State ranked No. 15 and undefeated. The Scarlet Knights left it with an upset loss to the Golden Flashes.

Same thing happened to No. 24 Ohio. Unbeaten one minute. Losers to unranked Miami (Ohio) the next.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by the booth, fellas.

USC-Arizona was Florida-Georgia, but with a lot more points. And like USC, the Gators have essentially been eliminated from the BCS title conversation.

Truth is, even if Florida had won -- which would have meant three victories against top-10 teams in the same month -- the Gators still might have slipped down the BCS standings. That's how dreadful they played Saturday.

"We still got some dreams that we can go some places," said Florida linebacker Jon Bostic.

It just won't be in Miami on Jan. 7, that's all. Georgia ended the Gators' BCS dream, their unbeaten season dream and, in all likelihood, their SEC championship dream.

"Things happen," said Bostic.

They happened Saturday. The Bulldogs, called "soft" by one of their own -- strong safety Shawn Williams -- didn't give up a touchdown to Florida, recorded five sacks and forced six turnovers.

"If we don't move up in the polls, I feel like someone is out to get us," said Jenkins.

Georgia wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who scored on a 45-yard touchdown catch midway through the fourth quarter, revealed his new BCS standings.

"Well, Alabama, Georgia, then Oregon," he said.

He got No. 1 right. Alabama should stay atop the standings after its win against Mississippi State on Saturday night.

After that, Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame can take turns arguing why they should be No. 2.

The fourth-ranked Ducks all but neutered Ralphie on Saturday, beating Colorado, 70-14. Oregon led 56-0 at halftime, ordered pizza and breadsticks, watched a few episodes of "Homeland" -- and still scored 14 more points in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, No. 3 Kansas State left purple bruises on No. 14 Texas Tech. The Wildcats trailed 7-3 at the end of the first quarter and won, 55-24.

Despite Mitchell's wishful thinking, Georgia isn't going to crack the K-State/Oregon/Notre Dame BCS firewall. Not yet, at least. And Bama is safe, too.

"I'm not going to take anything away from [Alabama]," said Georgia cornerback Damian Swann. "If we win out, we'll see them in Atlanta."

Swann was talking about the SEC championship. A win against Ole Miss at home and a win at Auburn guarantees the Bulldogs that matchup.

The rest of it? Who knows?

Alabama travels this Saturday to the Land of Hearing Loss -- LSU and Death Valley.

K-State is home against Oklahoma State.

Oregon goes to USC.

Notre Dame begins a stretch of sheepskin-soft games -- Pittsburgh, at Boston College, Wake Forest.

All in all, it was a strange, bizarre, perfectly wonderful day and night of football. There isn't BCS clarity yet, but little by little, upset by upset, rout by rout, we're getting there.

Arizona did its part. So did Kent State, Miami (Ohio) and, of course, Georgia. The Bulldogs were so excited about the win that one player, looking for someone ... anyone ... to embrace as he entered the locker room, gave a bear hug to a stunned Georgia State Patrol officer.

"We were ready for this game," said Jenkins. "Ready to prove the nation wrong."

Prove it wrong? Nah.

Instead, the Bulldogs proved once again that all things are possible during a football season.