ATHENS - Trailing by 31 points at halftime of Saturday's showdown with No. 8 Alabama, it was actually another SEC team on the collective minds of the Georgia Bulldogs, particularly Rennie Curran.
Painful memories of last year's embarrassing 21-point loss at Tennessee - a game in which many of the players, including Curran, felt like the team went through the motions after falling behind - were very much on the team's collective mind.
"We didn't finish the drill (last year against Tennessee) and kind of gave up on each other," Curran recalled.
While third-ranked Georgia couldn't fully mount a comeback Saturday, this time, Curran and his teammates were determined that if they were going to lose, they were going to go down swinging.
That Georgia was able to pull as close as 14 points before Alabama pulled away again in what turned out to be a 41-30 Tide win after two late touchdowns may be of little consolation to the sellout crowd of 92,746 at Sanford Stadium and the rest of the Bulldog nation.
However, for Curran and the players the second-half improvement an important building block for the rest of the season.
"In this case, we all fought hard," the 5-foot-11, 228-pound sophomore linebacker from Snellville said. "We worked hard to the end. We didn't start pointing fingers. So, even though the outcome wasn't what we wanted, we still have positives to look at. We still have things to build on."
Among those things to build on was a much improved outing by Curran and the Georgia defense in the second half.
After being shredded for 231 yards and 31 points by Alabama in the first half, Georgia recovered to stem the Crimson Tide - in a manner of speaking - for just 103 yards and 10 points in the final 30 minutes.
And Curran served a prime symbol of the Bulldogs' refusal to quit.
The former Brookwood star may have statistically done his best work during the first half, when he recorded nine of his game-high 14 tackles and forced a fumble.
However, the way he battled through cramps and Alabama's massive offensive line throughout the second half stood out to Georgia coach Mark Richt.
"That guy, he's a true warrior," Richt said of Curran. "He started cramping up in the third and fourth quarters, and you could tell he was hurting. He would not take himself out. ... I think that says a lot for him."
Curran admits the determination displayed by himself and the rest of the Georgia defense was fueled at least in part by anger.
It wasn't just memories of last year's Tennessee game that raised the Bulldogs' ire. Mistakes - especially several ill-timed penalties, including a roughing the passer call that nullified a fumble recovery on Alabama's first possession in which the Tide eventually scored a touchdown - were seen as being majorly responsible for the predicament Georgia was in.
"We kind of kept (Alabama's) drives going with mistakes and penalties," Curran said. "It really hurt us towards the end of the game. We kept their momentum going by the things we did and kept their offense on the field."
But Richt echoed Curran's sentiments that the Bulldogs' ability to channel their anger and to keep playing hard bodes well for the rest of the season.
And with several other top-five teams losing last week, Georgia's quest for the SEC and BCS national championships are far from dead.
"The best news about (Saturday) is that we still have a chance to control what happens," Richt said. "I am proud of the way they thought. It could've been a lot worse. They could've rolled up in a ball and quit.
"There was no quit in that group, and there's something to be said for that. There's absolutely things to build on. There's absolutely a ton of hope."
SideBar: Tennessee at Georgia
· When: Oct. 11, 3:30 p.m.
· Where: Athens
· TV/Radio: CBS/750-AM