When the Auburn Tigers host the Georgia Bulldogs this Saturday it will be the 126th meeting between the two in “The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry”. Georgia holds the all-time lead 61-56-8 and has won eight of the last ten meetings. For Auburn, it is going to take a valiant effort to defeat the second-ranked Bulldogs who are coming off a dominating performance against the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Tigers are coming off a road win over LSU but will need more than the heroic efforts of Bo Nix to pull off the upset.
Auburn vs Georgia Preview
Let Bo Nix Have Fun
Focused. Having Fun. That is the slogan on the current Bo Nix t-shirt. He did have the look of a quarterback that was focused and having fun in the 24-19 comeback victory over the LSU Tigers last week. After a week of not knowing if he would even be the starter, the third-year quarterback went 23 of 44 for 255 yards and one touchdown passing. He also led the team in rushing with 74 yards and scored another touchdown. Auburn needs that Bo Nix.
Nix has the athletic ability to be more of a threat in the run game than he has during his time on the plains. The Tigers will need that against Georgia. The Bulldogs just do not get run on under Kirby Smart. This season teams are rushing for an average of 67.8 yards per game and UAB is the only team to reach over 100 yards. That UAB team got beat 56-7, so despite that statistic, the game was not remotely close. Trying to run the ball up the middle with Tank Bigsby, Jarquez Hunter, and Shaun Shivers is just not going to work against this front.
The Georgia defensive line features one of the most unblockable forces in all of football in Jordan Davis. At 6’6” and 340 pounds, Davis can overpower opponents with pure strength or by using his speed and quickness. Behind Davis is a solid group of linebackers in Channing Tindall, Adam Anderson, NaKobe Dean, and Nolan Smith. That foursome has a combined 11 sacks on the season for the maligned Auburn offensive line to deal with. If there is a weakness on this Georgia defense it might be against the pass but the Auburn receiving group has been the weak link of the Auburn offense so far this season.
Auburn Defense Must Lead
The Auburn offense has its work cut out for them going against the Georgia defense. The Auburn defense is going to need to be just as good in this game for an upset to occur. They need to make this a defensive slugfest and find a way to force some turnovers by the Bulldogs to create opportunities for the offense. Auburn will need a couple of injured Tigers to return to help in that.
Linebacker Owen Pappoe will be a game-time decision according to head coach Bryan Harsin. Pappoe has not played since Penn State and has missed the two games. Auburn could also really use a return from edge rusher T.D. Moultry. The senior is one of the leaders on the team with three sacks and would be a vital piece going against whoever is at quarterback for Georgia. Whether it be Stetson Bennett or J.T. Daniels.
Offensively for Georgia, it is not complicated with what they want to do. They want to line up and lean on you with their offensive line and running backs. One can argue the Bulldogs have the best backfield duo in Zamir White and James Cook. The two have combined for 485 yards and six touchdowns. What works for Auburn here is they are the second-best defense in the SEC against the run allowing 81 yards per game. Georgia does average 196.4 rushing, so this match-up could be best vs best on Saturday.
Auburn vs Georgia Prediction
Auburn has to be feeling much better about themselves than they did last week going into the LSU game. They are 4-1 on the season and ranked 18th in the country. Winning cures all things but cannot hide the fact that the Auburn offensive line struggled to create space for the running backs and are the reason why Nix had to create miracles on scramble plays. The Auburn defense has the ability to keep this game close for a while, but the Auburn offense will struggle most of the day. The Georgia Bulldogs win 27-10.