There is no picture in sports that better visually depicts a rivalry as the one above.
UGA V is shown in action, almost taking a bite out of Auburn player Robert Baker.
Those two words also describe the series as well as any two words could. So close, indeed.
Georgia and Auburn will meet on Saturday for the 112th time. Auburn has won the game 53 times, while Georgia has won 50. Eight times in this series the game ended in a tie. Seems fitting somehow. Even the total points scored by each team in the series is extremely close.
In 1892, Georgia and Auburn met for the first time on the football field. As they prepare to battle again this week, the "South's Oldest Rivalry" has changed little. While the names are different year in and year out, the passion and the intensity will always be present.
This year has been a disappointing one for both teams. Different circumstances have brought them to this game, but the feeling that there could have been so much more is the same.
Georgia comes into the game with a record of 8-2. SEC and National Championship hopes have been laid to rest. The goal now is a simple one. Beat two of your oldest rivals and play on New Year's Day. The way the ball has bounced this year, that could be easier said than done.
Auburn sits at 5-5 and in slight disarray. Tony Franklin is gone. The offensive inconsistency is not. Was he just the scapegoat? Are there bigger problems lurking? Rumors abound that Coach Tuberville could be coaching his final games at Auburn.
A national TV audience is missing from this one, which is a rare thing in this series for the past few decades. The crowd at Auburn will be there. They will be loud. They will be ready for a fight. Which team will put their disappointments behind them and survive?
Georgia wins if....
The Defense means it when they say, "enough is enough."
After giving up 35 plus points again this past weekend, the Georgia defensive players called a players only meeting. The subject was a simple one. Every player needed to take responsibility for their assignments, and make plays. They stated that "Coach Martinez is not at fault." It is simply time that "we" execute to our ability and stop making mistakes.
Can the defense back up these words with a solid performance? Can they rise up and slow down Kodi Burns. If so, then indeed Georgia will win.
It sounds like the players have had enough. If they mean it, and if they execute, Georgia wins.
Knowshon tops the 100-yard mark.
Auburn is tough on defense. That fact rarely changes, and this year is no exception. If the Dawgs are to top the Tigers for a third straight year, they will need Knowshon to eclipse the 100-yard mark. Against the tough Auburn defense that won't be easy.
The balance of Georgia's offense works best when they run first, to setup the pass. Coach Bobo will look to get Knowshon in high gear on Saturday. If Knowshon is Knowshon on Saturday, the rest should take care if itself.
Georgia losses if...
Auburn hangs around and makes it close.
In the past two seasons Georgia has beaten Auburn by the scores of, 45-20 and 37-15. If the Dawgs are to finish strong this season, and avoid another devastating loss (see Alabama and Florida scores) on Saturday, the Dawgs must jump out early and put the Tigers down (as humanely as possible of course).
A close game would favor the Tigers because of their defense. But if the Dawgs can jump out early, it is not likely that the Tigers will be able to overcome a large deficit.
Kodi Burns plays the game of his life.
Kentucky made Georgia's defense look really bad last week. Georgia made the plays at the end to seal the win, but mistakes from a freshman QB made it easier than it could have been.
Kodi Burns has the athletic ability to play the same game with Georgia's defense. If the Dawgs can get to him early and shake him up things will go their way. But if Burns and the offense get it going, and gain confidence, an upset is certainly possible.
Tate and Lester are always a threat. Keeping them from getting on track will go a long way towards a Georgia win.
The X Factor
The unpredictable rivalry.
This game normally leaves one side or the other scratching their heads. Year after year, if Georgia appears to be the better team, then Auburn wins. If Auburn is ranked in the top ten and playing well, Georgia comes in for the upset.
In 2006 Auburn was ranked in the top ten. Georgia came into the game with a 6-4 record, having lost four of five. Matthew Stafford had taken over as the starter and was struggling as any freshman would.
But on that day, it was Stafford who made the plays. Auburn helped out with a few crucial turnovers, and just like that, an upset came to town. Georgia left Auburn with a 37-15 win, leaving Auburn fans scratching their heads.
Last year, Auburn came to Georgia and got "blacked out," 45-20. This blackout should not be confused with the Bama blackout that failed miserably this season.
So it comes down to this, if Auburn is to win this game, they will most likely have to play their best game of the year.
For Georgia to win this game they will need to play mistake-free football.
But the X Factor says, throw all the stats out the window. Forget the last two years. Heck, forget the last 111 games.
This is Georgia-Auburn... this is the South's Oldest Rivalry. This is what college football is all about.
Georgia is favored in this one, and I would have to agree with that. We have covered all of the reasons why UGA fans should still be worried about this one.
My guess is that Kodi Burns will play well and that Auburn will keep it close in the first half. I don't see him pretending to be Brandon Cox in last season's game.
Despite Auburn's great defense (ranked 13th nationally in scoring D), I think the Dawgs will wear them down in the second half. If the Tiger offense stumbles and can't sustain any long drives, there is no way the Tigers defense will be able to hold up.
I look for big days from Stafford and Moreno (really going out on a limb huh?), but I think it will be Georgia's defense that makes the difference. I really believe that UGA will come out and show a new determination on defense, a renewed "swagger."
My prediction: Georgia 31 Auburn 13
All that being said, please remember, this is Georgia-Auburn. Anything can happen, and it usually does.
For a look at the rivalry from an Auburn Tigers perspective, check out what TIGER H has to say on the game...
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