The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry returns for its 116th edition as the unranked Auburn Tigers host the No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs in a Week 11 clash.
On paper, it looks to be about as lopsided as the 2011 match—when the ‘Dawgs welcomed the Tigers to Athens and sent them packing following a 45-7 shellacking.
However, anything can happen out there on Saturday, so let’s take a look at some key players to watch for both teams.
Jonathan Wallace, QB, Auburn
This true freshman made his first start under center in a warm-up game versus the New Mexico State Aggies. It wasn’t pretty at first, as the signal-caller botched a handoff during his first collegiate football play and couldn’t get anything going early on.
Things looked most grim when Wallace threw an interception to the 1-6 Aggies defense, but he soon turned it around. The Alabama native eventually finished with respectable numbers—going 9-of-16 for 164 yards and a touchdown on top of that INT.
Wallace is going to need to be mistake free against a much better Georgia defense and make a few more plays if he’s going to give his team a chance to win.
Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
When Georgia’s offense takes the field, their quarterback has an excellent matchup against the second-worst defense in the SEC.
Murray’s been up and down in 2012, but he’s been able to destroy shoddy secondary units. Against Ole Miss last week, the signal-caller went 21-of-28 for 384 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions.
While the ‘Dawgs will look to run often, you can expect coach Mark Richt to dial up plenty of big-play passing opportunities for his offense to build an early lead.
Demetruce McNeal, S, Auburn
Which team will win?
McNeal had a heck of a game for a defense that hasn’t had much to pride itself on this year. The junior from College Park, Georgia compiled 11 tackles (two for a loss), a sack and a forced fumble last week.
His most impressive contribution may have been when he jarred the ball loose from New Mexico State QB Andrew Manley and got up to run down field and block for Daren Bates on his TD return.
The safety is going to have to create a lot of similar chaos and force some more turnovers to give his Tigers a shot on Saturday.