ATLANTA—CBS announcer Gary Danielson absolutely nailed it during the final moments of Saturday's UGA-LSU broadcast, long after the result had become academic:
Even with the blowout defeat, the Dawgs (6-1 overall, 4-1 in SEC) still control their fate for claiming the SEC East title, the SEC championship and representing the conference in the College Football Playoff semifinals.
So, in that vein, the team's stated seasonal goals remain firmly intact.
The only change from Saturday's debacle in Baton Rouge: UGA no longer has any margin for error, in terms of getting back to the national championship game (northern California).
It's an unimpeachable case of Win Out ... or Bust.
As such, any subsequent loss to Florida, Kentucky, Auburn or Georgia Tech would immediately vanquish UGA's chances of reaching the CFP semis.
What's the rationale? It's twofold:
a) In its four-year history, the Playoff has never accepted a two-loss team from the regular season.
b) Notre Dame and UCF would be major Playoff wild cards, if either the No. 5 Fighting Irish (AP poll) or No. 10 Golden Knights survived the regular season unscathed.
(UCF would also need to secure the Conference USA title-game victory.)
In other words, the Dawgs should hunker down and immediately focus on the upcoming gauntlet of Florida (in two weeks), at Kentucky (Nov. 3) and Auburn (Nov. 10) over the next month.
If there's a loss in that group ... either Kentucky (3-1 in SEC) or Florida (4-1 in SEC) would likely represent the East in the conference title game anyway.
On the flip side, should UGA carve out a clean path to Atlanta and presumptively face Alabama on Dec. 1 (Mercedes-Benz Stadium), a championship-infused victory over the top-ranked Crimson Tide would substantially boost the Dawgs' CFP resume.
Not over an undefeated Clemson, Notre Dame or Ohio State, mind you, but it would certainly carry the likes of UCF or any other one-loss program in the country.
Why is that? Simply put, it would take a real mind-bending exercise to bump a one-loss SEC champion from the four-team Playoff ... if only three or fewer Power 5 programs remained perfect through early December.
Bottom line: In its four-year history, the SEC has never been in serious jeopardy of missing the Playoff.
In fact, the champion's lowest seed was No. 3 (UGA last year).