Taking on the Bulldogs!
Tigers are back in a big game on CBS!
War Eagle, everybody! It’s Georgia week, and the vitriol is flowing! This game is set to be televised on CBS at 2:30 PM Central Time, and promises to be an exciting game. It has been 3 long years since CBS televised a football game at Auburn that had championship implications for both teams. The last such game featured Onterio McCalebb breaking away for a game-deciding touchdown against LSU in 2010.
I do worry that some Auburn folks are taking Georgia lightly. That’s no wonder, since many of the newspaper writers keep saying that Georgia “ranks near the bottom of the league” in many statistical categories, especially on defense. Honestly, I’m not sure which statistics they are talking about. Checking the current statistical leaders page over at the SEC website, I see a defense in the top half of the league in many categories.
The Bulldogs are 4th in the SEC in rushing defense, which is pretty important if you’re playing Auburn’s league leading running game. The Bulldogs are 5th in total defense, well ahead of Auburn’s 10th place ranking. Georgia is 2nd in the league in quarterback sacks. On the offensive side, the Bulldogs are again among the conference leaders, despite being missing a number of key skill players. Georgia is 6th in the SEC in scoring, with 35.6 points per game. The Bulldogs are 2nd in the league in passing offense, trailing only Texas A&M. That means that they are ahead of other passing juggernauts like Missouri, Ole Miss and South Carolina. The Bulldogs are 4th in the league in total offense, putting up 478 yard per game.
On the Auburn side of the field, the Tigers are 4th in the league in scoring defense, but are way down at 10th in total defense. Pass defense is worse, ranking 11th as Auburn gives up 238 passing yards per game. That’s not a reassuring number, when facing veteran quarterback Aaron Murray. Auburn is 4th in the SEC in scoring offense, tallying 38.6 points per game. The Tigers are 2nd in the league in total offense, piling up 493 yards per game.
The only real weaknesses I see in the Georgia season stats are that the Bulldogs only have 4 interceptions on the season, while Auburn has picked off 11. Auburn has a decided special teams advantage, as Georgia has yet to do much of anything in either the punt return or kickoff return areas. Georgia coverage has given up 2 punt return scores, and a kickoff return touchdown. On the season, Auburn is averaging 1.5 turnovers per game, while Georgia averages 1.8.
This game is Georgia’s last big SEC game of the season, and I’d expect any injured Bulldog that can walk, limp or crawl to the stadium will play. After this game, Georgia hosts Kentucky, then plays Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Neither of those teams will be much of a speed bump for the Bulldogs, so they’ll surely let it all fly against the Auburn Tigers.
In something of an unusual twist, Auburn is hosting Georgia for the second year in a row at Jordan Hare Stadium. The league office is now juggling a 14-team SEC, and making up the cross-divisional matches has been a struggle. Historically, Auburn has played Georgia better in Athens than at home, although that trend has died down since the 1990s. As one can see here, Auburn is 10 wins, 15 losses and 2 ties against Georgia in Auburn. In contrast, Auburn is 18-11-1 against Georgia in Athens. Overall, the Auburn vs. Georgia series is tied up with each team having 54 wins against the other, and 8 tie ballgames. In the last decade, it hasn’t really mattered where the game was played, as Georgia has won most of them. Auburn has lost 6 of the last 7 games against Georgia, and 7 of the last 10. It’s time to put an end to that trend.
We’ll have our usual open thread up early Saturday morning, and as always, feel free to chime in and cheer on our Tigers! I’ll be away from the computer for this game, but should be back for the Iron Bowl. War Eagle, and let’s beat those dogs!