Who: #25 Georgia Bulldogs (6-3, 4-2) at #7 Auburn Tigers (9-1, 5-1)
Where: Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, AL
When: 2:30 p.m. CT (CBS)
All-Time Series Record: Tied at 54-54-8.
Most Recent Meeting: Georgia 38, Auburn 0 (2012)
Back in the preseason, this game served as a potential “spoiler” game on the SEC calendar. One of these teams was going to enter the 117th edition of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry with one loss (at most) and a shot at the SEC Championship and even the BCS National Championship. Across the field from them was a talented underdog with some firepower on offense but some questions as to how they would pull the upset.
Just like everyone expected, Auburn still has dreams of Pasadena while Georgia has no shot at the crystal ball.
College football, ladies and gentlemen.
#7 Auburn has been on a roll, winning six in a row by a score of 272-116 (average score of 45-19) while beating four SEC teams, two of which were ranked.
Now, all that stands between Auburn and a winner-takes-the-West Iron Bowl is #25 Georgia, who has won 6 of the last 7 against the Tigers. This certainly is not an easy matchup for Auburn, as the Dogs’ stud running back Todd Gurley III has been back from injury for a few weeks and Aaron Murray has yet to struggle throwing the ball against an Auburn defense.
If Auburn wins, the Iron Bowl winner will be in Atlanta. If Georgia wins, they’re Missouri losses to Ole Miss and Texas A&M away from going to Atlanta.
But that’s not the only thing at stake; the rivalry itself, in a way, is at stake.
The series is tied all-time: Auburn 54, Georgia 54 with 8 ties. The winner of this game will grab the series lead. Auburn’s held the lead since the late 1980′s. Will they regain the lead, or will the Dogs have their day?
Auburn player to watch: Nick Marshall. It’s well-documented that Nick Marshall signed with Georgia out of high school and played defensive back before a series of unfortunate events led to his departure to junior college. Still, this isn’t just another game for Nick Marshall. This is Georgia. These are his former teammates, who are now his enemies on the gridiron. Georgia will do all they can to try and harass Marshall and the Tigers’ rushing attack, so this might be the day Nick has to toss the ball around.
Georgia player to watch: Todd Gurley III. Gurley’s an undeniable talent at a position in which the SEC is loaded. From Mason to Hill to Yeldon to Davis, Gurley might be more physically talented than any of them. However, he is healthier than he was before, but he still doesn’t seem to be 100%. Auburn’s defense has shown weakness against the run at times this season, so Gurley has a chance to light a fire under this injured offense.
Key for Auburn: Be more physical on defense than you have been all year. Aaron Murray can sling the ball, but the Bulldogs will try to run early and often to establish their gameplan. Both Arkansas and Tennessee ran well early in their games against Auburn before the Tigers stepped up against the run in the second half. The Tigers’ front seven must attack early in this game and try to make Georgia one-dimensional.
Key for Georgia: Play disciplined on defense. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Auburn has burned just about every opponent on read option plays, as the Tigers have run for over 200 yards in 9 of their 10 games this year while running basic read option plays. Georgia’s defense has a tendency to be undisciplined. If they don’t stick to their schemes and execute them well, Auburn’s offense will march up and down the field all day long, which will guarantee Georgia their fourth loss.
QB: Both QBs are great, but I’ll give the edge to Murray due to experience. Georgia.
RB: Todd Gurley’s great, but Auburn’s backfield has numerous healthy weapons. Auburn.
WR: Auburn doesn’t have many consistent receivers. UGA doesn’t have many healthy ones. Even.
TE/FB: Arthur Lynch and CJ Uzomah are pretty equal, but AU has Jay Prosch. Auburn.
OL: 320 rushing yards per game? That explains this one pretty well. Auburn.
DL: Both of these defensive lines are inconsistent. Both make plays at times. Even.
LB: Cassanova McKinzy’s good, but there’s no true MLB for Auburn. Georgia.
CB: Though Therezie is a “Star”, for sake of this segment, I’ll say he’s a corner. Auburn.
S: Auburn doesn’t have depth here, but Georgia lacks experience here. Even.
K: Marshall Morgan and Cody Parkey are two very similar kickers. Even.
P: Steven Clark is a finalist for the Ray Guy Award once again. Auburn.
Scoring Offense: Georgia 35.6, Auburn 38.6
Scoring Defense: Georgia 28.8, Auburn 20.4
Total Offense: Georgia 478.6, Auburn 493.3
Passing Offense: Georgia 297.7, Auburn 173.3
Rushing Offense: Georgia 180.9, Auburn 320.0
Total Defense: Georgia 367.0, Auburn 394.4
Passing Defense: Georgia 241.0, Auburn 237.6
Rushing Defense: Georgia 126.0, Auburn 156.8
First Downs: Georgia 213, Auburn 228
Sacks: Georgia 26.0, Auburn 23.0
Interceptions: Georgia 4, Auburn 11
Interesting Facts about the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry:
Even though Virginia-North Carolina is called the “South’s Oldest Rivalry” over the Auburn-Georgia series, the Tigers and Bulldogs played their first game in February of 1892, eight months BEFORE Virginia played North Carolina. Therefor, Auburn-Georgia really was the first football game played in the South…. Georgia has beaten Auburn soundly the last two seasons, winning by a total of 83-7. The Bulldogs have won each of the past two meeting both by exactly 38 points…. Auburn ran for 444 yards last week at Tennessee. With that performance, THREE of the top five rushing performances in SEC games in the last decade belong to Gus Malzahn Auburn offenses…. The Tigers have lost six of the last seven against Georgia by a score of 244-128. Georgia’s also won 3 of the last 4 meetings at Jordan-Hare by a score of 123-77. Auburn’s last two wins in the series came in 2005 (Auburn 31, Georgia 30) and 2010 (Auburn 49, Georgia 31)…. This game will be QB Aaron Murray’s fourth start against Auburn. He’s 2-1 against the Tigers and has burned Auburn’s defense throughout his career. His career stats against Auburn so far: 47 of 70 for 705 yards and 10 TDs with no interceptions….
Auburn’s defense won’t get torched the way it has been against this offense the past two years, but Murray, Gurley and company should still consistently put some drives together. However, even though Georgia’s run defense only yields 126 yards per game, I still think the Tigers will run the ball well. Auburn won’t top 300 yards rushing, but Nick Marshall will throw for over 200 yards and two touchdowns. Cody Parkey will key a field goal late to put the game on ice and send the Tigers to 10-1!
#7 Auburn Tigers 41, #25 Georgia Bulldogs 30
Other SEC Games:
#1 Alabama 38, Mississippi State 20 (Dak Prescott could present Bama’s defense with some trouble. SOME…)
#10 South Carolina 31, Florida 0 (Yes, the Florida Gators will get blanked by Clowney and Co.)
Ole Miss 59, Troy 31 (Troy plays great offense but might have the worst defense in the FBS.)
Vanderbilt 35, Kentucky 14 (Vandy’s headed to the postseason yet again.)
Ball State 41, #15 Northern Illinois 38 (It’s all about Wednesday Night MACtion, baby.)
#8 Clemson 38, Georgia Tech (CLEMSONing Alert could be in full effect here.)
#2 Florida State 56, Syracuse 0 (FSU is going to name their score in this game.)
#3 Ohio State 56, Illinois 21 (See above, only to a slightly lesser extent.)
#4 Stanford 28, USC 24 (This could be the ultimate let-down scenario for the Cardinal. USC is alive now.)
#5 Baylor 63, Texas Tech 35 (TTU can score on Baylor, but they can’t stop anything themselves. Whatsoever.)
#6 Oregon 44, Utah 13 (Oregon will bounce back from the absolute pounding they took at Stanford.)
#24 Texas 38, #12 Oklahoma State 33 (The Pokes will run the ball well, but I like Hook ‘Em at home.)
#16 Michigan State 13, Nebraska 10 (MSU’s defense has been banned in 17 countries because of their graphic nature.)
#19 Arizona State 30, Oregon State 23 (This is an underrated Pac-12 duel.)
UPSET ALERT! Duke 42, #23 Miami (FL) 24 (Yes, not only will Duke advance to a shocking 8-2 record, but they’ll BLOW OUT the reeling Canes in the process. The Blue Devils may find themselves in the ACC Championship Game. Seriously.)