Georgia and Auburn meet for the 125th renewal of the Deep South’s oldest rivalry Saturday night between the hedges of Sanford Stadium, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. It’s the second game of the year, and it’s being played on the first weekend of October, which is certainly a change from the decades and decades of November gridiron battles, so many of which are etched into Southeastern Conference lore.
It will be odd to say the least having the Bulldogs and Tigers squaring off so early. But, hey, it’s 2020.
Both come in at 1-0. The Bulldogs had a dominant third quarter in a 37-10 victory at Arkansas. Auburn controlled the fourth quarter, and beat Kentucky 29-13 on the Plains.
The Bulldogs had six punts, 10 penalties and were one for 12 on third down at Arkansas in the first half in Fayetteville, and trailed 7-5 at intermission. But a third quarter goal line stand cued an impressive rally.
Stetson Bennett threw a pair of touchdowns, including a second and 20 strike to George Pickens, who made a great move and dash to the pylon. Bennett followed up the TD by converting a two-pointer, diving to hit the pylon. He completed 20 of 29 passes for 211 yards, and had 20 yards on the ground. The Bulldogs blocked a punt to set up the second TD. Then Eric Stokes came up with the big play, an interception return for a touchdown. The beautiful NOT – Non Offensive Touchdown.
Auburn got an impressive 29-13 victory over Kentucky in a Top 25 vs. Top 25 matchup. It marked Auburn’s third straight campaign that opened with a win over a ranked foe.
Most impressive for the Tigers was their passing attack. Sophomore quarterback Bo Nix had an excellent game, throwing for 233 yards on 16 of 27 passing with three touchdowns, including a pair to Seth Williams, one of the SEC’s best wide receivers. Williams totaled six receptions for 112 yards. Auburn caught Kentucky off guard on a “swinging gate” two-point play to take an 8-7 lead. The Tigers wouldn’t trail again.
Another big moment came on another two-pointer. Auburn led 15-13, the Wildcats went for two and the tie and were stymied. The Tigers then tacked on a pair of touchdowns to grab control.
Georgia had a great run of success against Auburn starting in 2006 and running through the 2010s. The Bulldogs have won 12 of the last 15 meetings between the two, including a 28-7 rematch victory in the 2017 SEC Championship Game, three weeks after Auburn rolled 40-17 against Georgia at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Bulldogs won 27-10 between the hedges in 2018 and held on for a nail-biting 21-14 triumph on the Plains a year ago.
Both teams finished strong in their season openers. Now the stage is set. It’s just really early for the Deep South’s oldest rivalry.