Auburn Visits the Bulldogs
Tigers face off against the SEC East champ in its own building
(Photo by Acid Reign)
War Eagle, everybody! This week, the Auburn Tigers visit the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens, Georgia. There should be little pressure on Auburn as the pundits have made Auburn a double-digit underdog, and Georgia has already clinched the SEC East. I figure Auburn players would love nothing more than to steal a win away from an overconfident, complacent bunch. Georgia has its division won but needs to keep winning to stay alive in the College Football Playoff race. The pressure is on the Bulldogs.
I felt like Auburn had a matchup advantage across the board on defense 3 months ago. Now, I’m not so sure. After seeing Georgia’s run game bash in a decent Kentucky defense and Auburn’s struggles to stop the run against teams like Mississippi State and Texas A&M, the Auburn defense could be in for a beating. This is doubly so if the Auburn offense continues to flatline for large stretches. On the other hand, it is said that Georgia’s offensive line is struggling with injuries, and quarterback Jake Fromm has been limping noticeably at practice this week.
Except for brief flashes, Auburn has struggled to move the football consistently against even the worst SEC teams. I’d like to be able to write that Auburn will go to a more “pass first” strategy this week and actually lean on the most dangerous scoring threats on the team. However, I’ll believe it when I see it. Look for more of those mind-numbing handoffs up the middle with no lead blockers.
Special teams are a varied sampler platter this week. Auburn has a slight advantage in punting distance with Arryn Siposs, who seems to have improved each game. Siposs is averaging 45.6 yards per punt while Georgia’s Jake Camarda is averaging 42.5. Auburn has shown sparks of being dangerous on punt returns but also a propensity to field balls inside the 10-yard line and to drop punts on the ground. Georgia’s Mecole Hardeman is a dangerous punt returner. Both teams can be deadly returning kickoffs as well, but both kickers boot touchbacks at a high rate. Let us hope that the game does not come down to kicking field goals as Auburn’s Anders Carlson is only 11 of 21 on field goal attempts while Georgia’s Rodrigo Blankenship has hit 15 of 17.
It’s going to be cold for this game. With a breeze from the northwest, it will be around 45 degrees F at kickoff, falling to 40 or lower by game’s end. Skies will be clear, and a thin sliver of crescent moon will be visible, low in the eastern sky for a little while after sunset. The game kicks off at 7:00 PM Eastern Time and will be nationally televised on ESPN. We will have our usual open thread up for this game here at trackemtigers.com. I’ll be able to do a bit of afternoon commentary on this thread but will not be available for a play-by-play.
A look at other SEC games this weekend, after the jump!
South Carolina visits Florida to kick off the early action. Bye weeks are over, division races are decided, and this week features 7 SEC-vs.-SEC games. Teams will be slugging it out for bowl position or, at least respectability. That’s certainly true in this matchup. This is a hard game to pick as both the Gamecocks and the Gators have been inconsistent this season. Florida is already bowl eligible. South Carolina needs 1 more win but should get that easily. The Gamecocks UF, Chattanooga, at Clemson, and Akron left on the docket.
Also in the morning slot, Vanderbilt visits Missouri. The Commodores need 2 more wins to go bowling. Their remaining slate is this game, followed by Ole Miss and Tennessee in Nashville. Missouri will likely clinch a bowl bid in this game as the Tigers have been playing well of late.
There is a 3rd early game this week as Ole Miss visits Texas A&M on a CBS double-header day. Both teams are hungover from losses last week in games that they could have, maybe should have, won. Ole Miss is on probation, and Texas A&M needs just 1 more win to go bowling. The Aggies this win. A surging UAB team visits College Station next week, and the Aggies finish the season hosting LSU.
The second part of the CBS double-header has Mississippi State traveling to Alabama. The MSU defensive front may give Alabama a few issues, but I don’t see how a one-dimensional MSU offense gets much of anything done against a nasty Bama D.
Kentucky visits Tennessee in an afternoon slot made for the SEC Network. Kentucky is already bowl eligible and could turn a decent season into a memorable one (10–2) by running the table to finish November. It’s a doable prospect with Tennessee, Middle Tennessee State and Louisville remaining. Tennessee is still fighting for bowl eligibility and needs 2 wins. The Vols might pull 1 upset, but after watching a chunk of their 14–3 win over Charlotte last Saturday, I can’t see 2 wins. UT has Kentucky, Missouri and at Vanderbilt left.
LSU visits Arkansas at 6:30 PM, Central Time. Already eliminated from bowl contention, the Razorbacks are the walking wounded while LSU once again is ticked off after being kicked around by Alabama.