Not surprisingly, major stakes are on the line as Georgia and Auburn, ancient rivals dating back to the first meeting at Atlanta’s Piedmont Park in 1892, square off Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Georgia is riding high, coming in at 9-0, and 6-0 in the Southeastern Conference. The Bulldogs, in a classic trap game, survived a battle with tough South Carolina, winning 24-10. It was a sloppy start against the Gamecocks with a costly fumble inside the Gamecocks five and too many penalties. But coming off the emotional victory in Jacksonville, and with this huge battle looming, the 14-point victory was extremely impressive.
Hey, Bulldog fans have gotten greedy. Since that 20-19 win in South Bend over Notre Dame, Kirby Smart’s Canines reeled off six straight wins by at least 25 points.
But a 14 point win over South Carolina to go 9-0, check please.
Now comes the best team the Bulldogs have played since the Fighting Irish.
Since a tight 27-23 loss to LSU in Baton Rouge, the Tigers have come back strong, routing Arkansas and then this past week beating Texas A&M 42-27 to improve to 7-2 on the year, and 5-1 in Southeastern Conference play. Auburn’s other loss came in the second week of the season, a 14-6 defensive struggle at Clemson. With a high-powered offense, tremendously strong defensive line and the country’s best kicker in Daniel Carlson, the Tigers have a wide assortment of strengths.
Everything is in sight for Georgia. Smart, the staff, and his veterans, led by the dynamic senior tailback duo of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, have done a tremendous job of staying focused not just week to week, but day to day and drill to drill on the practice field.
While it’s pretty clear what is on the line for Georgia, don’t count out Auburn for anything. Though pained by that loss to LSU, a game Auburn led 23-7, with what is left on the schedule, anything is possible. Just look at the rankings and SEC standings. If Auburn were to beat Georgia, Louisiana-Monroe, and Alabama, the Tigers would play for the SEC championship and certainly be in the running for one of those four coveted playoff spots.
Sitting high up on that mountain, that wind will blow even harder on the plains. It should be a great one. It usually is.