1 Contain the Run – With the Bulldogs defense this season, it’s like the old political saying, with most every race coming down to “it’s the economy stupid.” Well with Georgia this season, it’s about stopping the run. As the esteemed Hall of Fame Bulldog Kevin Butler said, “Georgia and Auburn have been playing football for over 100 years, since the beginning of the sport, whoever runs the ball better is going to win. Always have.” Sure tackling, containment and proper pursuit are musts. It starts up front. Can Georgia’s defensive line take the fight to Auburn?
2 Rattle Stidham – Auburn’s outstanding quarterback Jarrett Stidham has had a fine career on the Plains, highlighted by the those victories he piloted the Tigers to over Georgia and Alabama last season. The SEC’s Newcomer of the Year last season, Stidham has been the centerpiece of Gus Malzahn’s offense this season. When the Tigers have the running game going, Stidham can sling it or run it himself. He is the total package, thought very highly of by pro scouts. Georgia’s defense must make him uncomfortable.
3 Kicking Game – Look back to last season’s two match-ups, and the kicking game stands out as a big part of what made the difference on the Plains and then in Atlanta. At Auburn, the Bulldogs missed a field goal, had a 15-yard penalty on a punt and fumbled a punt. In the SEC Championship Game, Rodrigo Blankenship hit two field goals and Da’Quan Hakins-Muckle blocked an Auburn field goal attempt. Big plays in the kicking game can make the difference.
4 Sanford Fire – It’s been a while since Georgia played between the hedges. It was October 6, and still very hot, to be exact. A lot has happened since that four touchdown victory over Vanderbilt and the Bulldog faithful are excited to see and cheer for their red-clad gladiators Saturday. The crowd can make such a huge difference. It’s the first of three straight at Sanford Stadium, and a peaked fervor is a must for the defending SEC champion Bulldogs.
5 Keep Choppin’ – Kirby Smart builds his teams to win in the fourth quarter. Last season, his “keep chopping” mantra caught everyone’s eye. Go hard, fast and smart for 60 minutes, and things should fall your way more often than not. Resiliency, the ability to answer, and battling through adversity are all musts to have success in the toughest league in the land. It’s going to take all four quarters, and maybe more, of Georgia’s sharpest football to topple those Tigers from Auburn.