When the Auburn Tigers (2-7) host the No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs (8-1) this Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium, the university will be staring at a possible loss in Week 11 to another SEC rival.
After winning the 2010 BCS National Championship, a season as catastrophic as the one the Tigers are currently experiencing is unacceptable. Auburn must win Saturday to build any kind of momentum at the close of the season.
Not only will the Tigers be playing for their last chance at SEC salvation—they won’t beat Alabama in their final game of the season—they are fighting for their head coach Gene Chizik.
If Auburn fails to stun Georgia this Saturday, the head coach will not return next season. These are the ways they can save their coach’s job and steal the victory.
Stability at Quarterback
While the Auburn Tigers must find stability at QB to win Saturday’s game, that will be much easier said than done. With three quarterbacks taking substantial snaps so far this season, the continuous turnover is never a good sign.
The hope now is that freshman Jonathan Wallace can build off his successful play against the New Mexico State Aggies (9-of-16 for 164 yards and a touchdown) in Week 10 and help the Tigers control the clock and shock Georgia.
Wallace has yet to be tested against a great defense, but the strength of the Bulldogs is in their offense, not the team’s defensive unit. While the freshman will not carry his team to a win on his shoulders alone, if he can manage the game and protect the ball, Auburn could pull off the stunner.
Consistent Rushing Attack
There is no question that Auburn’s 114th-ranked pass attack has been the team’s downfall in 2012, but the only saving grace has been the elite rushing of sophomore Tre Mason and senior Onterio McCalebb.
With a combined 201 carries for 1,159 yards and 10 touchdowns, the powerful duo of running backs have more touchdowns than every quarterback the Tigers have used combined. That shows both how great these backs are and how futile the Auburn passing attack has been.
Georgia’s 25th-ranked defense (20.9 points allowed per game) will give Mason and McCalebb everything they can handle on Saturday, but if the tandem can get loose early and often, Auburn will have a chance to shock the college football world with a huge win.
Auburn’s Defense Must Wake Up
While there are serious concerns about the offensive unit at Auburn, the real questions surround the defense, which shows up to play sporadically. The Tigers need a full 60-minute performance from their defensive unit if they want to steal this win.
Despite key injuries on the offensive side of the ball for the Bulldogs, the team is still averaging 36.8 points per game (good enough for 24th in the nation). Auburn must hold Georgia to substantially less than that, though—especially with a freshman QB.
The Tigers typically allow 27.3 points per game on defense, but they need to turn in an elite performance like they did against LSU (12 points allowed) or Vanderbilt (17 points allowed).
The only way Auburn can win its game Saturday will be by holding Georgia to 17 or fewer points. That may be a task too tough to conquer.
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