Auburn Football: What Game Has the Best Chance to Be an Instant Classic in 2013?
Throughout the history of the Auburn football program, there have been many classic games that helped shape the rich and proud tradition of the Auburn Tigers.
At least once a year, there is a game that becomes one of those instant classics. You know the ones, the types of games that are hard to ever forget. The 1993 and 1994 Florida games and the 2004 Georgia game are some of the great Auburn classic games.
Some classics are so good that they become ingrained into the Auburn history books.
There's "17-16," "Bo Over The Top," "The Barn Burner" and of course, "28-27." Even in the horrible 2012 campaign there was a classic game that Auburn fans will remember. Auburn nearly upset LSU, who was ranked No. 2 in the country at the time.
What does 2013 have in store for Auburn fans? Approximately 100 days away from the start of the college football season, one game that is primed to be an instant classic for Auburn fans in 2013 is the matchup with the Georgia Bulldogs in "The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry." The Bulldogs travel to Jordan-Hare Stadium for the second consecutive year on November 16.
These classic games involving Auburn usually have a few of the same ingredients—they occur against one of Auburn's natural rivals, it's a game where the Tigers are an underdog and there is usually a lot at stake.
The Georgia game in 2013 has all of those ingredients and then some.
The Bulldogs have dominated the rivalry since 2006. Auburn's only win since that season came in 2010. Georgia has pulled even in the record books over the last few years and the overall series record is 54-54-8.
The rivalry between Georgia and Auburn is one of the best in college football. Except for three years that saw World War I and World War II interrupt the series, the Bulldogs and Tigers have clashed on an annual basis since 1892.
It's a rivalry where many fans of the two institutions work closely among each other daily. Auburn's campus is only 28 miles from the Georgia state line.
The pain of losing to the other team is almost greater than the joy of winning. It's a true rivalry.
Auburn will definitely be a heavy underdog in November.
The 2012 SEC championship game was a game that saw time run out on Georgia's bid to upset Alabama and make an appearance in the national championship game. The Bulldogs return a lot of talent from the 2012 team on the offensive side of the ball, including QB Aaron Murray—who has torched the Tigers in his time wearing the red and black of Georgia.
ESPN's Mark Schlabach has the Bulldogs ranked No. 7 in his very early 2013 preseason poll.
Given that the annual meeting between the Bulldogs and Tigers is always played in November, there is also always a lot at stake.
In 2010, Auburn clinched a spot in the SEC championship game when it defeated Georgia. The Bulldogs did the same when it defeated Auburn last fall inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. There is a good chance Georgia could be trying to do the same thing in November when it returns to Jordan-Hare Stadium.
So, the ingredients for a classic game or even a classic upset are there for the Tigers. Why Georgia?
A few things stand out here to make me think this game will be closer than it should be and give Auburn a chance to make this game one of the best in recent memory.
As much talent as Georgia has on its roster, the defense took a big hit to graduation and the NFL draft. According to Dave Miller of The National Football Post, 12 players that started two or more games on defense for Georgia have departed.
Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee liked what he saw from the revamped defense of the 'Dawgs in their spring game. Still, for a defense that was ranked No. 77 in rushing defense in 2012 along with losing a lot of veteran starters, that is a stock that needs to be held and not bought quite yet.
That young defense will have all the game experience under their belt by the time the Auburn game rolls around in November. However, other than the matchup against Clemson in Week 1, the Bulldogs do not see an offense that is paced and run-oriented quite like Auburn will run in 2013.
Speaking of Auburn's offense, when Malzahn's offense was unbridled in 2009 and 2010, it had plenty of success against Georgia's defense (to be fair, Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham was not the defensive coordinator in 2009). In 2010, Auburn treated Grantham's defense like it did every other defense in the league. It racked up 49 points and 484 yards (336 rushing, 148 passing).
In 2011, Georgia dominated Auburn from start to finish, although it should be noted that the tempo aspect of Auburn's offense had been long gone at that point.
If the improved Auburn defense can get a few stops, chances are that Auburn's offense will likely be able to keep up with Georgia.
Lastly, this rivalry has been known to turn out instant classics and its share of upsets. Georgia fans remember the 2006 game fondly. Auburn was ranked No. 5 in the country and a young QB named Matthew Stafford led the Bulldogs to a 37-15 upset.
Who can forget the SEC's first overtime game in 1996 between these two teams? Or in 2005 when Auburn's John Vaughn kicked the game-winning field goal against No. 9 Georgia in Athens?
It's way too early to say that Auburn will pull off a big upset against Georgia in November. However, with the game nearly five months away, it's easy to say this game more than any other on the schedule is one that you won't want to miss.
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