UGA vs. Auburn: Why the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry Is the SEC's Best

Brett MixonContributor INovember 5, 2012

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 12:  Head coach Mark Richt of the Georgia Bulldogs shakes hands with head coach Gene Chizik of the Auburn Tigers after their 45-7 win at Sanford Stadium on November 12, 2011 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

On Saturday, the Georgia Bulldogs and the Auburn Tigers will renew the rivalry known as the "Deep South's Oldest Rivalry." Not only is it the oldest in the Deep South, it is the best.

There is the "Iron Bowl," the "Third Saturday in October" and "The World's Largest Outdoor [name redacted]." These are all great rivalries that carry a lot of history. None of these are as good as the rivalry between UGA and Auburn, though.

No other rivalry in the SEC can stand up to the longevity of the series. Saturday's game will be the 116th meeting between the two schools, making it one of the most-played games in college football and the most-played series in the SEC.

Auburn and Georgia have played (almost) annually since February 20, 1892. Only world wars have kept the two institutions from not meeting on the gridiron. 

Along with being the most-played game in the SEC, the implications are normally huge in this game because of its usual mid-to-late November date.

Recently, UGA clinched a spot in the SEC Championship game in 2002 in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn did the same in 2004 and 2010. UGA will look to clinch its spot in this year's conference-championship game this weekend.

Not only do these games normally carry division-title implications, throughout the history of the series they have normally been close ballgames.

Who can forget the SEC's first overtime game in 1996, in which UGA came away victorious, 56-49?

Or in 2005, when Auburn went up to Athens and walked away with a 31-30 last-minute victory off the leg of John Vaughn?

The last decade has not seen many thrillers, however, with the exception of 2005. 

Along with close games on the scoreboard, the overall series is nearly even as well. Auburn currently holds a slim 54-53-8 all-time advantage over UGA.

The Bulldogs have had the Tigers' number lately, winning five of the last six contests. 

There is also the fact that some of the most revered names in the rich traditions of UGA's and Auburn's history came from the opposing institution.

There's Vince Dooley—the former Auburn player that led UGA to the national title in 1980 as head coach of the Bulldogs.

Then there is Pat Dye. The school he played for (UGA) will be playing on a field named after him in Auburn, AL on Saturday.

The relationship between Auburn and Georgia can be best viewed as that of first cousins. With the Auburn campus being just 28 miles across the Georgia state line, the geographic locations of the two schools make these teams natural rivals. 

Auburn and UGA are in numerous recruiting battles within the state of Georgia and throughout the Southeast. Both schools win their fair share of the battles. 

Overall, things have been pretty respectful on the field—until recently.

Things turned nasty in 2010, when both teams combined for 16 penalties (10 by UGA, 6 by Auburn) for 162 yards.

Two Auburn players were ejected for throwing punches, while the entire UGA team stormed the field ready for a brawl. 

The Wall Street Journal labeled the rivalry as the dirtiest in the country from 2006-2011 with respect to roughness and conduct penalties. 

Lastly, as with any true rivalry, crazy things happen in this one.

Tommy Tuberville shocked the Bulldogs in his first year as Auburn head coach in 1999, when Auburn sprung the upset of UGA .

In 2006, a mediocre and unranked UGA squad dashed No. 5-ranked Auburn's national-title hopes. 

Could Auburn do the same this weekend in Jordan-Hare Stadium? You never know in this game.

That is why it's not only the "Deep South's Oldest Rivalry"—it's also the Deep South's best rivalry.