The Auburn Tigers and Georgia Bulldogs (-3, 48) have been squaring off on the gridiron for as long as most living football faithful can remember. The contest pits two quality football programs in one of the oldest rivalries in the south. While the Bulldogs have already clinched the SEC East the Tigers aim to say alive for a title in the western division. Auburn is 5-1 in conference play and sit one game back of the 6-0 Alabama Crimson Tide. College Football Saturday Free Pick: SEC Rivalry.
The now-No #1 Georgia squad defeated Auburn in Athens last season. Auburn entered Sanford Stadium a year ago as double-digit favorites. This season the roles of expectations have reversed as the Bulldogs take Jordan-Hare Stadium field as the three-point road chalk.
The pressure in this contest rests squarely on the Bulldogs shoulders. Georgia enters this Saturday affair as the College Football Playoff top ranked school. Head coach Kirby Smart has a talented and deep roster that is stacked with blue-chip recruits.
Georgia strolls into this big game undefeated and led by freshman quarterback Jake Fromm. The 2017 season started with Jacob Eason behind center but a knee injury against Appalachian State sidelined him and Fromm has remained the starter since. The young Fromm has completed over 63 percent of his passes and thrown for 1,459 yards and 15 touchdowns.
The Bulldogs offense is centered around the running game. Georgia leads the SEC in rushing averaging nearly 280 yards on the ground per game. The star of the show is tailback Nick Chubb.
Tigers quarterback Jarrett Stidham isn’t flashy under center but behind a solid running game is steady and accurate. Stidham has completed nearly 67 percent of this throws this season. He is solid in the pocket but also has the mobility to give his receivers time to stretch the field. The sophomore has 17 completions of 30-plus yards with the majority of those coming in conference play.
Running back Kerryon Johnson has rushed for 15 touchdowns this season and is critical to the success of the Tigers passing game. When Johnson is gaining yards on the ground it offers wide outs Ryan Davis and Darius Slayton room to work against opposing secondary’s.
This SEC battle will be determined by which team makes the least mistakes. It is difficult to pinpoint a weakness on the Georgia defense but if they are subject to the big play it comes via the passing game. And this speaks to the strength of the ‘Dogs stop-unit as they rank second in the SEC in pass efficiency defense.
Auburn ranks third in the conference and ninth in the FBS in points allowed, 17 per game. The winner of this matchup will be better on defense, not offense. Despite the Tigers 40-plus points in their league wins this season they are far from an offensive juggernaut. Stidham and his offense need to be balanced and have success on first down to hold serve at home in this important contest. I am betting they can’t execute this against college football’s current number-one ranked Bulldogs.
We enter the final stages of the 2017-18 college football season and are in the heat of the CFP chase. As much as Auburn fans want to believe they still have a chance to reach the playoffs with an upset win today no two-loss team has ever finished in the selection committee’s Final Four. The aforementioned trend isn’t likely to change.
That said, if Auburn can upend Georgia today, defeat UL Monroe next week followed by a major upset over Alabama in the regular season finale and then find a “W” in the SEC Championship game Auburn could be that first 2-loss team in the CFP January bracket.
Key Gameday Trends
- The oddsmakers closing favorite in this game is 6-1 against the spread in the two team’s last 7 contests.
- The Bulldogs are 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings between the two.
- The UNDER the Total has cashed at a 5-1 clip in the last 6 meetings.
The strength of this Auburn team is their defense. But even on friendly turf they will not be able to slow Georgia’s ground game.
College Football Saturday Free Pick: SEC Rivalry
3 Day All Access Pass – $59
7 Day All Access Pass – $99
30 Day All Access Pass – $325
90 Day All Access Pass – $699
1 Year All Access Pass – $1,750