Richt, MSU coach support BCS title pairing

Georgia's Mark Richt and Michigan State's Mark Dantonio, Outback Bowl opposing coaches, are on the same side of the debate regarding the LSU-Alabama rematch in the BCS title game.

Both are fine with it.

Richt and Dantonio voted Alabama No. 2 behind LSU on their USA Today coaches' poll ballots, and said Monday they did so because they felt the Tigers and the Crimson Tide were the nation's top two teams. That those teams already had played did not factor into their thinking, Richt and Dantonio said.

"There's no rule that says every team has got to be a conference champion to get in," Richt said. "It comes down to the votes, comes down to the computers. Everybody voted with the best integrity that they have, and that's where it ended up. So if it's a rematch, so be it."

Said Dantonio, who joined Richt on an Outback Bowl conference call: "When you don't have any teams going undefeated other than one, you're forced to make some decisions. I thought [LSU-Alabama] was a great football game the first time around and could have gone either way, so it sort of plays out."

Richt and Dantonio, whose teams meet Jan. 2 in Tampa, had Oklahoma State No. 3 on their ballots. Six of the 59 voters in the coaches' poll,  including Alabama's Nick Saban, had Oklahoma State lower than third.

The lowest vote for Oklahoma State was cast by Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, who had the Cowboys No. 5 (behind No. 3 Stanford and No. 4 Arkansas). Oklahoma State was No. 4 on the ballots of Saban, Duke's David Cutcliffe, Syracuse's Doug Marrone, Stanford's David Shaw and Missouri's Gary Pinkel, who each had Stanford No. 3.

The coaches' poll is one of three components of the BCS standings. The others are the Harris poll and the computer rankings.

LSU was a runaway No.  1 in the BCS standings released Sunday night, and Alabama edged Oklahoma State for No. 2 to gain a rematch with LSU for the BCS championship. LSU defeated Alabama 9-6 in overtime in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 5.

Richt votes Dogs No. 18

Where did Richt put the Bulldogs on his ballot? Number 18, which is where they wound up in the poll.

Georgia receivedTop-10 votes from five coaches: N.C. State's Tom O'Brien, who voted the Bulldogs No. 7; San Jose State's Mike MacIntyre, No. 9, and Vanderbilt's James Franklin, LSU's Les Miles and Navy's Ken Niumatalolo, all of whom had the Dogs No. 10.

One voter, Brigham Young coach Bronco Mendenhall, did not include Georgia in his top 25.

Michigan State's Dantonio voted Georgia No. 16 and his own team No. 12, while Richt put Michigan State No. 11. The Spartans wound up 13th in the coaches' poll.

Richt said he has "a systematic way" of compiling his ballot and tries to apply the same methodology to ranking the Bulldogs as he uses for other teams.

Jones, Charles named All-America

Two Georgia players, outside linebacker Jarvis Jones and tight end Orson Charles, were named Monday to the American Football Coaches Association's All-America team.

Jones is the first Georgia defensive player to be named to an All-America team since safety Greg Blue in 2005. Charles is Georgia's first offensive All-America since tailback Knowshon Moreno in 2008. (On special teams, punter Drew Butler received multiple All-America honors in 2009.)

Samuel expected for bowl

Richt expects tailback Richard Samuel, sidelined since the Florida game with an ankle injury, to be able to play in the bowl. Richt also said tailback Carlton Thomas, who left the SEC title game with an injured knee, should be ready to play.

"It will be a competitive situation throughout the bowl practice," Richt said of tailback playing time. "We'll just see who is best equipped to do it."

Dogs, Spartans similar

Richt and Dantonio mentioned during Monday's conference call that their teams have a lot of similarities.

"We seem to kind of mirror each other," said Richt, noting the similarities even extend to the teams having the same turnover margin for the season (plus-seven).

Other similarities: Both teams won their divisions, won 10 games, are ranked in the nation's top five in total defense and lost their conference title games. Georgia lost to LSU 42-10 in the SEC Championship game, while Michigan State lost 42-39 to Wisconsin in the inaugural Big Ten title game.

"If we had won that game, and I thought we had an opportunity to win the game , we'd be in the Rose Bowl and probably in the Top 10," Dantonio said. "That's how life is. It hangs by a thread sometimes."

SEC title game TV ratings

Saturday's SEC Championship game posted a 26.3 Nielsen rating in the Atlanta TV market, meaning 26.3 percent of  the area's households were tuned in on average. Sunday's Falcons-Houston game drew a 20.8 rating in the metro market.