A chilly and very windy day in east Alabama and I’ve got to say Auburn’s new video board above the South end zone seats may be the largest of any stadium in college football. Not as long as the one at the Jacksonville Jaguars’ EverBank Field, mind you, but still HUGE.
And when the two ancient rivals clash in 87,451-seat Jordan-Hare Stadium about the only thing certain is that either the Bulldogs or Tigers will take the lead in the series, which dates way back to 1892 when the first meeting was held in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. That’s because this Auburn-Georgia rivalry currently stands dead even with each team having been victorious 55 times, to go along with eight ties.
Certainly not certain as we near the 12 o’clock kickoff is which team will win this football game. Georgia coach Mark Richt said following the Bulldogs’ 27-3 win over Kentucky last Saturday that “the Auburn game has so much tradition and you can just throw the records out the window.” That’s a long-time, sort of worn-out cliché’ when sports fans talk about two rivals squaring off, but when it comes to Georgia-Auburn, that expression is so dead-on.
Not only has the underdog triumphed in this game many, many times down through the decades − and Georgia is a 1-point “dog” here today − but the visiting team has found great success in this particular series. Take the Vince Dooley era for example … Dooley’s 1966, 1968, 1976, 1980 and 1982 teams all clinched SEC titles with big wins at Jordan-Hare. And of course in the 2002 game at Auburn, Richt’s Bulldogs beat the Tigers on David Greene’s touchdown pass in the corner to Michael Johnson and the 24-21 win sent Georgia to the SEC championship game and enabled the Bulldogs to capture their first conference title in 20 long years.
So, yes indeed, the football has bounced in funny ways whenever Georgia and Auburn do battle on the gridiron. Bulldog fans don’t need to be reminded of the agony they experienced on this same site two years ago, when the Tigers got the infamous “Immaculate Deflection,” or “Prayer at Jordan-Hare” in the game’s final seconds to erase maybe the Bulldogs’ greatest fourth-quarter comeback ever and jolt Georgia by 43-38. Even last year back in Sanford Stadium, who would have thought the Bulldogs would be able to rout a 9th-ranked Auburn team to the tune of 34-7?
So it’s safe to say the most predictable thing about Bulldogs vs. Tigers is that it’s unpredictable. In that vein, we ask the following: Can the Georgia defense continue to build on its recent stellar performances and slow down the power running of Auburn’s Jovon Robinson and Peyton Barber as well as keep Tiger QB Jeremy Johnson from finding passing holes in the Bulldog secondary? … Can the Bulldogs’ offensive front create space for Sony Michel, Keith Marshall, Brendan Douglas (and Terry Godwin out of the Wild Dog) against an Auburn defense that limited Texas A&M to just 10 points last weekend? … Can Greyson Lambert/Brice Ramsey complement the Georgia run game with a decent passing performance while likely having Carl Lawson and other Tiger defenders breathing down their necks?
And, primary question of all, can the Bulldogs just find a way to beat the Auburn Tigers here this afternoon and thereby keep all the “noise” and angst in Bulldawg Nation at bay for another week, something that will surely swirl around the program once again if Auburn defeats Georgia?
Another tough football game to forecast, that’s for sure. But I’ve just got a hunch the Bulldogs’ offense is going to come alive against a Tiger defense that resides at the bottom of the SEC statistical rankings and that the Georgia defense is again going to play plenty good enough to win. Let’s call it Dawgs 31, Tigers 21, as Georgia improves to 7-3 and posts a final SEC ledger of 5-3.
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