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'I respect Mark Richt as much as anybody'

Colorado coach Dan Hawkins expects Georgia’s best shot on Saturday night in Boulder despite the Bulldogs’ disappointing 1-3 start to the 2010 season.

Dan Hawkins, formerly the head coach at Boise State, has an 18-34 record at Colorado, where he's now in his fifth season.

“I think it’s just a case of pride,” Hawkins said Monday.

Hawkins’ Buffaloes (2-1) were off this past weekend after opening the season with victories over Colorado State (24-3) and Hawaii (31-13) sandwiched around a blowout defeat at California (52-7) on Sept. 11, meaning Colorado's team got an opportunity to watch Georgia's 24-12 defeat at Mississippi State.

“I respect Mark Richt as much as anybody in the profession,” Hawkins said. “He’s a great coach, and they’re a great program. And I don’t take a lot of stock in the fact they’ve dropped a couple of games here. They’ve battled. They had a great game against Arkansas and had a chance to win that game. You can see how good Arkansas is based off their game with Alabama. Then last week they just had things not go their way.

“You feel bad, really, for any coach. They just couldn’t get a break. You just have a play and a penalty and a play and a turnover or something like that. But they’re a great football program, and they’re a good team, and he’s a good coach. They’ll be ready to go when they get here.”

Now in his fifth season, Hawkins is facing some heat of his own in Boulder. After reaching the Independence Bowl in 2007, Colorado’s record dropped to 5-7 in 2008 and 3-9 last season.

This year’s Buffaloes team is paced by leading rusher Rodney Stewart, who has 253 yards and two touchdowns on 67 attempts. Quarterback Tyler Hansen has completed 54-of-85 pass attempts for 558 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions. Defensively, cornerback Anthony Perkins leads the way with 27 tackles thus far.

Obviously, the past week allowed Colorado some additional prep time for Georgia.

“The bye week was good,” Hawkins said. “We got a few guys healed up, and we were able to get some things done both for Georgia and just fundamentally. It will be nice to have a game to point to this weekend.”

Saturday's matchup in Boulder will kick off at 7 p.m. (Eastern time) and be televised by Fox Sports Net. Colorado plans to honor the 20th anniversary of its 1990 national title team in conjunction with the game.

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