MACON, Georgia – Georgia and Auburn will renew their annual slugfest rivalry this Saturday on the plains across the Chattahoochee in eastern Alabama.
This is called the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, but I’ll remind my Auburn friends, including Tucker Sargent, that the Bulldogs have won 11 out of the last 14 games played between these two teams.
So, is it even still a rivalry? Well, of course it is. And this year’s game could be a classic, as both Georgia and Auburn have great defenses. We’ve known all year that the Auburn defense would be the best one Georgia plays during the regular season. They have several NFL prospects on their defensive line of scrimmage, including Marlon Davidson, Derick Brown and Nick Coe. Auburn has not allowed an opponent to score more than 24 points all season, and that really tells you all you need to know about how effective their defense has been this season.
Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm will have to play his best game of the season more than likely for the Bulldogs to win – even better than he played in Jacksonville. The Bulldogs must have the same approach they had against the Gators, which was more multiple than in most of the games they’ve played. They’re going to have to pass the ball, as this Auburn defensive front might shut down the Bulldogs.
Georgia’s defense continues to get better, and that’s perhaps a main reason the Bulldogs were ranked fourth in the poll Tuesday night instead of Alabama. Georgia has three shutouts this season, including two of the last three games against Kentucky and Missouri. We knew, even with all the young players on Georgia’s defense, they’d need to mature in time for these five big games in November. And, they have. We’re seeing a bit more of a pass rush, as Jordan Davis and Nolan Smith are chasing after the quarterback. They’ll need to do that this week against freshman Bo Nix, who can get rattled.
Auburn will have to figure out its running game, as Boobee Whitlow has not been 100-percent since his knee surgery in October. If the Tigers can’t run on Georgia, as most teams have not been able to do, they’re going to find it hard to score Saturday on their home field.
Vince Dooley once said this rivalry is like feuding cousins, and he could not have been more correct. Think of how many Auburn fans we have in middle Georgia. It’s probably because a lot of them could not get into UGA. But it’s more likely because of the proximity of Auburn to the state of Georgia.
We likely have family members or even friends who had no choice but to go to an out-of-state school. And the rivalry probably escalated in the 1980s, when Auburn grad Vince Dooley was coaching Georgia and Georgia grad Pat Dye was coaching Auburn. It’s a great rivalry, and it’s a shame Auburn is too afraid to play Georgia in November any longer, forcing the game to be moved to October. Maybe that’s how they think they’ll stop the trend.
Oh, did you hear… did you hear Tucker… Auburn has lost 11 times in the last 14 years?