Game time: 3:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. CT
How to watch online: http://www.cbssports.com/watch
Odds: Georgia (-2), 49 (O/U)
The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. A Top 10 matchup. The game will have College Football Playoff implications. In his second year in Athens, Kirby Smart has Georgia ranked No. 1 in the nation. They come to The Plains to face their next-door enemy, the No. 10 ranked Auburn Tigers.
Saturday is the fourth time the two teams have met with both ranked in the top ten; Auburn has won the previous three. Can they go four-for-four?
Auburn offense vs. Georgia defense
The Auburn offense has been firing on all cylinders, averaging 36.9 points per game. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham has gotten better as the year has progressed. He boasts a 66.8 completion percentage (which leads the SEC) and averages 221.8 passing yards per game. Stidham has the right pieces around him, and by pieces, I mean Kerryon Johnson. Johnson is averaging 124 rushing yards per game. In other words, he’s responsible for a third of Auburn’s offense every week. Auburn’s offensive line has had its share of injuries this season, but if everyone is back and healthy (or at least healthy-ish) and can hold up for four quarters, expect the Tigers to have success.
BUT that’ll be a tall order against a talented, well-coached Georgia defense. The Dawgs are allowing 11.7 points per game. They give up fewer than 90 rushing yards per game, and if Auburn can’t run the ball, Georgia’s defense will have a field day with Stidham. They have 53 tackles for loss on the year. (That’s 5.9 per game.) Junior linebacker Roquan Smith leads the Dawgs with 70 tackles this season; that’s 23 more than the next guy. So my point is, well, that if Auburn’s offensive line can’t hold up, look for Smith to pad his stats.
Auburn defense vs. Georgia offense
Auburn’s defense has been stout this season, and they have a big challenge ahead of them in the form of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Georgia averages 279.3 rushing yards per game and for Auburn to win this game, that can’t happen. I suspect that Auburn defensive lineman Jeff Holland will make his presence known, but the unit has a whole has to play cohesively to slow down Chubb, who is averaging 6.2 yards per carry.
If Auburn does play well enough to slow down Chubb, what can we expect from freshman quarterback Jake Fromm? Well, for starters, we can expect a raucous crowd at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Plus, Auburn fans really don’t like Georgia. If he’s rattled by the environment around him, things could go downhill quickly for Georgia. BUT if he plays like he’s played all year, he will be hard to stop. Fromm has a 172.7 passer rating and 15 touchdowns. Most importantly, he’s making good decisions. How many freshmen in college make good decisions? Fromm has thrown just four INT’s this year, so he’s protecting the football. If Georgia is playing well enough for Fromm to have a career day, it’s not good for Auburn.
The weather is supposed to be perfect for the game. I think the crowd will be into it, and I think the energy in Jordan-Hare Stadium will be palpable from our living room couches. If it were a one-quarter contest, my money would be on Auburn. But since it’s a four-quarter game, I think the better team will win and I think the better team is Georgia.
Auburn 24, Georgia 33