The Georgia Bulldogs enter the “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry” this weekend with two goals in mind. One is to become bowl eligible for the 14th consecutive time and two is to spoil the National Title hopes of the Auburn Tigers.
It would not be the first time Georgia came into this game and ruined Auburn's season. The latest was 2006 when the Dawgs went into Jordan-Hare unranked against the No. 5 ranked Tigers. The Dawgs left with 37-15 victory.
You can throw out records, rankings and home field advantage in this series. The Dawgs own a 14-9-2 record in Jordan-Hare while the Tigers own an 18-11 record in Athens.
It seems as though anytime these two teams meet it is for the right to win or play for the SEC Championship. This year if Auburn wins they clinch the SEC West title and set up a championship game with either Florida or South Carolina.
Sitting at 5-5 on the year, will Georgia catch Auburn looking ahead at Alabama or even Atlanta for the title game?
Will the Cam Newton investigation be too much of a distraction this week as more and more news comes to the forefront?
The following are three keys that Georgia will need to spoil Auburn’s National Title run and save Georgia’s season with what will become their signature victory of 2010.
1) Aaron Murray vs. Auburn’s Secondary: Aaron Murray has had one of the top freshman seasons in Georgia history. Currently Murray has a 61.5 completion percentage, 2307 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and six interceptions. He is the top freshman in the country when it comes to his 155.33 efficiency.
Auburn’s secondary has been toasted all season long. They give up 241 yards a game through the air, which ranks 11 out of 12 in the SEC and 91st in the country.
They have given up over 200 yards passing to Clemson, Louisiana-Monroe, Kentucky and Tennessee-Chattanooga. They have given up over 300 yards passing to Arkansas State and South Carolina and over 400 yards against Arkansas.
Auburn’s corners have stated several times in the media this week that “Georgia has the most skilled receivers that they will or have faced this year.” If Murray is able to get the ball to Green, Durham and King consistently down field it could be a big day for Georgia.
2) Georgia’s Front Seven vs. Cam Newton: Cam Newton has been a huge surprise for the Auburn Tigers this season. If anybody knew that Newton would put up the kind of numbers he is putting up this season, they would have to wonder why Tebow started ahead of him at Florida. He has destroyed all of Tebow’s stats that made him so special during his Heisman campaign.
Newton leads the SEC in rushing, yes that’s correct, he leads the entire conference in rushing. He has led the Tigers to become the 4th ranked run offense and 6th ranked offense in the NCAA.
Georgia comes into this game with the 13th ranked run defense and 15th ranked defense in the NCAA.
This has to be the best matchup and most crucial aspect of this game. Auburn’s 307 rushing yards a game vs. Georgia only giving up 108 rushing yards a game. Whichever one wins this battle will come out on top.
3) Special Teams play: Special teams could play a major role in this game for Georgia. Blair Walsh enters the game making 17 out of 20 of his field goal attempts. If the game is close at the end he has the ability to kick from beyond 55 yards for a game winner.
Drew Butler has been amazing once again with his ability to change field position. The defending Ray Guy award winner has 41 punts this year with 17 inside the 20, 14 fair catches and six touchbacks. That means only four of his punts have even been returned this season. This could be huge if Newton and the Tigers have to drive the entire field with each possession.
Auburn’s kickoff coverage unit has given up over 120 yards of kick return yards in eight of their games and over 150 in six of those contests. Brandon Boykin could be licking his chops when he gets his hands on the ball. He is sure to break Georgia’s school record for return yards for a career in this game. If he is able to take one back for a touchdown in this one it could be a big enough boost to send Georgia to a victory.
Notes to Ponder:
Coach Mark Richt has success against ranked teams on the road, compiling a 4-2 record in such games.
Georgia has won the last four in this series with a chance to ruin Auburn’s SEC and NCAA title hopes if they can make it five in a row.
Auburn has been in some tight games against teams you would not think they would have had trouble with this year. They have had to come back and defeat South Carolina, Clemson and Kentucky.
Three of the Tigers wins have been by three points (Mississippi State, Clemson and Kentucky).