When: Saturday, November 12, 2016
Where: Sanford Stadium, Athens, Ga.
Time: 3:30 p.m., ET
Radio: Bulldog Radio Network, Auburn Tigers Sports Network, ESPN Radio
Odds: Auburn is currently 10-point favorites, via OddsShark.
The No. 8 Auburn Tigers (7-2, 5-1) travel to Athens on Saturday to face the Georgia Bulldogs (5-4, 3-4) in a pivotal SEC matchup.
The Tigers enter this game winners of six straight and are one of the hottest teams in the country. Auburn is powered by a prolific rushing attack, ranked No. 3 in the country, averaging 300 yards per game. Sophomores Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson have combined to rush for 1,722 yards and 16 touchdowns this fall.
Sophomore quarterback Sean White is an efficient leader for the Tigers. On the season, White has completed 69 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and just two interceptions. Last week, White came off the bench to lead the Tigers past a pesky Vanderbilt team. Having missed all of practice that week, head coach Gus Malzahn chose to go with John Franklin III under center. White started the second half, completed 10 of 13 passes for 106 yards and a score to lead Auburn to the win.
Things are much different for the Bulldogs as they are just looking to become bowl eligible at this point. Last week, freshman quarterback Jacob Eason engineered a game-winning drive to help UGA slip by Kentucky, 27-24. With just under three minutes remaining, Eason led the Bulldogs from their own 25-yard line to Kentucky’s eight-yard line to set up Rodrigo Blankenship’s game-winning field goal.
Say what you want about Eason, but he’s been clutch this fall. He’s now led the ‘Dawgs on two game-winning drives late in the fourth quarter and had another taken from him on Tennessee’s ‘Hail Mary’ victory.
Overall, though, Eason has had his share of issues, completing just 53 percent of his passes this fall.
While Pettway and Johnson are arguably college football’s top rushing duo, that was a title many expected to go to Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, that hasn’t worked out.
Chubb has returned healthy from last season’s knee injury, but UGA’s issues along the offensive line have made things much tougher for him. He’s gone over 100 yards just twice this season, with first one coming in the season-opening win over North Carolina. On the season, Chubb has rushed for just 691 yards.
Michel, meanwhile, began the season injured and missed the first game. He ran for over 100 yards last week and actually has 100 yards in two of UGA’s last four games.
Defensively, both teams are solid against the run. Georgia ranks No. 20 defending the run, while the Tigers rank No. 29. So this game could come down to which quarterback makes the least amount of mistakes.
So, what happens?
Sanford Stadium used to be an incredible home-field advantage for Georgia. Those days ended when Vanderbilt beat the Bulldogs earlier this season. No disrespect to Vandy, the Commodores play hard each and every week, but UGA is traditionally one of the nation’s top programs.
It is important to note that Sanford Stadium hasn’t been too kind to Auburn. In the last four meetings at Georgia, the Bulldogs have won each game by a combined 97 points.
The Bulldogs lead the ‘Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry’ with a 56-55-8 edge and have won the last two meetings.
Taking the home-field scenario out of the equation, it’s clear Auburn is the better team. Actually the Tigers are the much better team. They have an outstanding running game, a solid quarterback who makes good decisions and a good defense led by stud pass-rusher Carl Lawson.
Georgia will hang with the Tigers and expect another nail-biter. However, late in the fourth quarter Auburn will take the lead and finish this one off with another strong drive so Eason won’t have another chance at a spectacular ending.
Prediction: Auburn 27, Georgia 17