The Georgia Bulldogs are one step away from a second straight SEC Championship Game appearance, but the Dawgs can’t afford to tread lightly against the Auburn Tigers Saturday.
What, you say? The Auburn Tigers that are 2-8 this year? Really?
I’m fully aware of how bad the Tigers have been this season. I’m also aware that the Bulldogs are coming off their best team performance of the season last week against Ole Miss.
But those are precisely the reasons that this has the makings of a classic trap game for the Bulldogs.
The media has basically already crowned the Bulldogs SEC East champs, so there is always a chance the players will get caught up in that hype and forget to show up on the Plains.
At first glance, it appears that the Tigers have nothing at stake in this game. To an extent, that’s true. And that should be one warning sign for the Dawgs. A team with nothing to lose can be a dangerous team indeed.
And make no mistake, this is an Auburn team that’s going to be playing with a lot of emotion on Saturday.
Besides Georgia, Alabama is the only SEC team left on Auburn’s schedule, and that’s in Tuscaloosa. This home game versus the Bulldogs is probably the last chance for Auburn to avoid going winless in the conference for the first time in over 30 years.
More importantly, the Tigers may well be playing to save their head coach's job. It seems unreal that Gene Chizik, only two years removed from a national championship, might be in danger of getting fired, but that’s what happens when you’re staring at a season that features wins only over Louisiana-Monroe, New Mexico State and—possibly—Alabama A&M.
A win against rival Georgia would go a long way in proving that Chizik is still capable of getting this program back on track and may guarantee him another season at Auburn. Don’t be surprised if you see an Auburn team playing its best football of the season on Saturday.
Finally, Georgia has not looked good in true road games this year. The Missouri game was much closer than the score indicates. In Columbia, Georgia made South Carolina look like the best team in the country. Kentucky nearly won in Lexington.
If the Georgia team we’ve seen on the road this season shows up against a fired up Auburn squad, there could be trouble on the Plains for the Dawgs.
With all that being said, I have little doubt that the Bulldogs will come out and manhandle the Tigers as long as Georgia plays even close to the level it did against Florida and Ole Miss—and I think it will.
Georgia certainly seems to have found its identity in the past two weeks and I expect to see it dominate the rest of the way leading up to the showdown with Alabama in Atlanta. So, Dawgs, hunker down and prove me right.