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Georgia Bulldogs vs. Auburn Tigers Football Preview: A Big Game in the SEC East, Unlike We All Expected

This game will determine as much as we thought it would. Just not in the way we thought it would

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia Bulldogs vs. Auburn Tigers, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

No one would have blinked if you had said in August that this game would feature a Top 10 team and could be a crucial showdown in the SEC East. If, on the other had, you had said that this game would feature a Top 10 Auburn team and the outcome could decide whether Missouri or South Carolina or Georgia goes to the SEC Championship Game -- well, that would have problem gotten some laughs. Or an involuntary commitment to the local asylum.

But that's where we are. An Auburn win would eliminate Georgia from the hunt for the SEC East and force Mizzou to win out in order to claim the ticket to Atlanta. It would also ensure that Auburn's game against the Tide at the end of the season is a winner-take-all clash for the SEC West. So it's kind of a big deal.

The thing that makes it intriguing is that it could be a strength-on-strength matchup for the Georgia defense, which is unusual, most because the conventional wisdom is that the Georgia defense has no strength. But the Dawgs are actually decent against the run, allowing 3.4 yards a carry and limiting opponents to an average of 126 yards a game. On the other hand, that's a little bit deceptive because of some of the lesser names on the Georgia schedule and the low rushing total posted by LSU -- the median yardage allowed by Georgia is 142, and most of the higher-octane offenses on the slate have put up larger numbers.

So the more important match-up might be Auburn's passing defense against Aaron Murray. Despite all the injuries that Georgia has suffered this year, Murray is still 13th in the national in passing efficiency with a solid 157.84. That Murray's mark is only good for fifth in the SEC says more about the Year of the Quarterback in the conference than his skills as a signal-caller. If Auburn's passing efficiency defense doesn't live up to its place as 28th in the country -- or perhaps surpass it a bit -- then this game could go sideways for the Tigers pretty quickly.

If this game were in Athens -- even given the mixed history or home teams in this series -- I might be a bit more willing to go with the Dawgs. But the Tigers haven't lost at home this year, and that's not likely to change until two weeks from now.

Auburn 41, Georgia 30