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Not much on line for UGA, Ga. Tech

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

ATHENS -- They'll be handing out some nice trinkets to the winner. Georgia could lock up a minor bowl. And, of course, there's always those state bragging rights.

That's about all Georgia vs. Georgia Tech has going for it this year.

Both teams have endured disappointing seasons, taking much of the luster off their traditional regular-season finale Saturday night.

Georgia Tech (6-5) has at least locked up bowl eligibility, taking care of that little detail with a win over Duke last week. But the Yellow Jackets won't be heading anywhere near as glamorous as they did a year ago, when their first outright Atlantic Coast Conference title since 1990 was worth a spot in the Orange Bowl.

Georgia (5-6) is even worse off, needing a win to avoid its first losing season since 1996 and assure itself of bowl consideration.

"It's great to have a game like this at the end of the season, in particular at the end of this season," embattled coach Mark Richt said. "When you have a season where you've not reached some of the goals you set -- well, really, hardly any of the goals that we set -- to play a game that's still this meaningful is exciting for me as a coach. You're always looking for ways to motivate."

While Richt's job doesn't appear in immediate jeopardy, a losing record and a second loss in three years to the Yellow Jackets would certainly leave him in hot water heading to 2011.

He seemed to sense that during his weekly news conference, declining to answer any questions that he thought asked for a bit of perspective on the mediocre year.

"I'll wait until the end of the season to do those things," Richt said.

Georgia Tech beat the Bulldogs between the hedges two years ago, snapping a seven-game losing streak in the season and capping off a better-than-expected debut season for coach Paul Johnson.

Last year, the Yellow Jackets won the ACC but failed to beat the Bulldogs, who rushed for 339 yards in a 30-24 upset. Now, they're facing Georgia with their backup quarterback, having lost star Joshua Nesbitt to a broken arm. Tevin Washington will make his third straight start.

"I am sure that both of the teams would have liked to have a better record going into this, but it is what it is and doesn't change that it is still a huge game," Johnson said. "It is for the state championship and bragging rights and I know that if you picked one game on our schedule for our alumni, fans and everybody involved, this is the game that they would pick."

Well, not all of 'em.

Georgia Tech was still trying to sell its allotment of tickets just days before the game.

Johnson isn't worried about how many people will be at Sanford Stadium. He's still trying to figure out why his team has been so inconsistent this season.

"You are always trying different things and trying to improve on what you haven't done well," Johnson said. "If there is one thing that I look back on, probably the most frustrating thing as a coach has been not being able to find the 'hot' button for our team. That is frustrating to me because ultimately I am the one responsible for trying to find it and I have not been able to, consistently. There have been times, but not consistently."

The players on both teams insisted that it's still an important game, no matter what the record. No one wants to give the guys on the other side a chance to yap about winning for 365 days.

"It doesn't take away from the game at all," Georgia linebacker Christian Robinson said. "If you don't win this game, the next year is not fun. It wasn't fun for us in the weight room and offseason training, just hearing about it. We want to win this game. It's just as big as it's ever been."

Trying to add a bit of life to the matchup, Richt touted the little-known trophy that goes to the winner, the Governor's Cup.

He also pointed out that, much like a bowl game, the team coming out on top is allowed to reap some extra benefits.

"Every senior of the winning teams get a little trophy," Richt said. "Also, the head coach of the winning teams get a trophy with the names of all the seniors who played in the game. I really like those."