Georgia coach Mark Richt knows the Bulldogs don't control their own destiny in the SEC East, all they can do is win out and hope for the best.
ATLANTA -- Georgia is back in a first-place tie in the SEC East.
To be a factor in the second half of the season, the Bulldogs know they must be more consistent in the second halves of games, including Saturday night's game at Tennessee.
Georgia has won three straight games after an 0-2 start, including Saturday's 24-10 victory over Mississippi State. Georgia led 21-3 at halftime and relied on its strong defense in the second half.
Georgia starting LB Washington nabbed for DUI after big win vs. MSU
COMMERCE — Georgia linebacker Cornelius Washington was suspended Sunday for at least two games following his arrest and charge with driving under the influence and speeding.
Coach Mark Richt said athletic association policy states that student-athletes will be suspended for at least 20 percent of their competitions following DUI arrests.
"It will be at least that," Richt said.
Washington's suspension will begin with this week's game at Tennessee.
"It's a setback, but I don't know if it will deter us from playing hard and playing well," Richt said. "It's going to give someone else an opportunity to play well."
The Commerce Police Department's incident report said Washington was stopped at 1:48 a.m. Sunday for driving a Dodge Journey at 92 mph in a 55 mph zone. The officer said in the report that the 22-year-old said he had been drinking, but "it had been several hours prior."
It says Washington failed a series of field sobriety tests and had a blood alcohol reading of 0.12 percent on a breath test. The legal limit in Georgia is 0.08.
The report said a 20-year-old female passenger in the car's front seat also was arrested for underage consumption of alcohol. She had an alcohol reading of 0.176.
The Jackson County Sheriff's Department said Washington was booked into jail overnight Sunday and released on a $3,500 bond.
Washington recorded two sacks and four tackles in Georgia's 24-10 victory Saturday over Mississippi State.
Richt said he met with Washington on Sunday.
"Yes, he's sick, he feels awful," Richt said. "He knows that he let the team down, let his coaches down, let his family down and the Bulldog nation in general. He understands that there's a price to be paid. He's going to take his punishment like a man and come back and finish strong for us. That's kind of his state of mind right now."
Washington made his third start of the season in the win over Mississippi State. Chase Vasser started the other two games. Richt said he hasn't decided who will start against Tennessee.
It was Georgia's second straight Southeastern Conference win, following a 27-13 victory at Ole Miss on Sept. 24. In each game, the Bulldogs were held to a second-half field goal after an impressive first half.
Georgia (3-2 overall, 2-1 SEC) is tied with Florida and South Carolina for first place in the SEC East.
"It certainly generated excitement as we watched South Carolina play and Florida play," coach Mark Richt said Sunday.
Georgia opened its season with losses to two ranked teams, Boise State and South Carolina. The 0-2 start generated dour projections for the remainder of the season and left Richt on the hot seat.
Suddenly, the Bulldogs have renewed reason for optimism, though they still need help to win the division. South Carolina would win a tiebreaker with Georgia if the teams finish with the same conference records.
"There's still an awful lot of football to be played," Richt said. "We know we don't control our own destiny, but we know there's a good chance that everybody is going to get knocked around. We'll see who ends up on top. We're closer than we were a week ago, so that's a good thing for us."
Added Richt: "The bottom line is we must focus on one game."
The Bulldogs also must concentrate on sustaining their momentum after halftime.
Georgia had 237 yards and 14 first downs while building the 21-3 halftime lead over Mississippi State. Georgia finished with 315 yards and 20 first downs. They were held to a 28-yard field goal by Blair Walsh in the second half.
"We definitely want to put the foot down and really put teams away," said quarterback Aaron Murray. "Last week and this week we didn't do that. That's something we need to do because you don't want to put our defense in a situation of having to continually stop teams over and over and over again. We really want to be able to put teams away when we have the opportunities and we didn't do that.
"I think we're still pumped up and ready to make the play. We're just not making the plays when they're there."
The strong starts have Georgia above .500 for the first time this season.
"We're feeling great right now," Murray said. "We've got the ball rolling. We're getting better every week and we've just got to keep working hard and not be happy with where we are right now. We still have a long way to go and a long way to go in winning the East."
Murray completed 13 of 25 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns, both in the first quarter. He set a season high with three interceptions.
After the game, Richt called three interceptions "inexcusable."
After watching the film, Richt said on Sunday a receiver slowed down in his route on one of the interceptions.
Richt also gave credit to Mississippi State's defense.
"The second half offensively we didn't do much," Richt said. "I will give Mississippi State's defense credit. They are a very good defensive football team."