Georgia-Auburn Preview: Which Beleaguered Defense Will Step Up?

The ACC and SEC BlogSenior Analyst INovember 13, 2009

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 12:  Devin Aromashodu #1 of the Auburn Tigers has a pass broken up by Tra Battle #25 of the Georgia Bulldogs during their game on November 12, 2005 at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo By Streeter Lecka)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Deep South’s oldest rivalry renews for the 113th time as the Auburn Tigers travel to Athens to face the Georgia Bulldogs.

The Tigers lead the all-time series 53-51-8, but have lost the last three meetings.

For many years, the game was played off-campus in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park or in Columbus, Ga.

These schools are more like cousins than rivals, though. Both share the Battle Hymn of the Republic as a fight song (not the fight song), and both have hedges surrounding their fields.

But maybe the biggest similarity is from the coaching ranks, where both prominent coaches played for each other's respective teams. Longtime Georgia coach Vince Dooley lettered at Auburn while former Tiger head coach Pat Dye played at Georgia.

On paper, this one looks like an offensive shootout with two good offenses and two subpar defenses.

Stopping The Run?

I do not see either QB lighting it up through the air in this game, so I expect both teams to try and grind it out on the ground.

Auburn has been running the ball with ease all year, and recently, Georgia has turned to the running game too, averaging nearly 200 yards in their past three games.

The defense that can slow the opponent's running game down and force more passes on second and third downs will give their team a big advantage.

Red Zone Conversions

Both teams have done a good job of getting points on the board once they get inside the 20, but Auburn is doing a better job at getting touchdowns as opposed to field goals.

On the defensive side of the ball, Georgia has stopped the opposition one out of every seven times from even getting points and is also forcing a lot more teams to go for field goals than Auburn is.

The team that fails to convert in the red zone could be out of luck in a close game.


UGA is minus 16 (-1.78 per game) in turnover margin this year. They are a little bit better in their five wins with only a minus seven margin.

Auburn is plus four on the season but is trending negatively over the past five games at minus four.

The team that can reverse their turnover woes is likely to win the game.



Both teams will be able to rush the ball with some success, but as the game goes on, I see Georgia’s defense coming up with more stops. In their past three games, they are giving up just 106 YPG compared to Auburn’s 143 yards of offense on the ground.

UGA has the better weapon in the red zone in 6’4” AJ Green, who is back this week after sitting out last week with an injury. Also, kicker Blair Walsh has shown good accuracy from long range.

The caveat to all of this is Georgia’s turnover problem that has yet to be solved, but Auburn has coughed up the ball a lot in SEC play too, so their season margin is a bit misleading.

I like Georgia to survive an offensive shootout and win at home, overcoming a tired Auburn team who is playing their 11th straight game of the year.

Georgia Wins and Covers -4.5