The rivalry between the Auburn Tigers and Georgia Bulldogs is as old and competitive as they come.
When the two teams face off against one another this Saturday, Georgia will be fighting for first place in the SEC East. Auburn will be looking to vault ahead of Arkansas for third place in the west division.
Player matchups and coaching strategies are all well and good, but let’s take a step back from game analysis in favor of some random anecdotes.
Here are 10 little-known facts to whet your appetite in preparation for the Deep South’s oldest rivalry.
“Oldest rivalry” is certainly not a stretch in this series. The two teams have been playing for more than 100 years.
To put that in perspective, the Auburn Tigers and Georgia Bulldogs have been playing one another for 40 years longer than their conference, the SEC, has been in place.
As a pop culture reference point, the rivalry is 53 years older than the slinky.
Utah did not become a state until four years after the teams’ first matchup.
Lastly, the game of basketball was invented just one year before the Deep South’s oldest rivalry began.
When the Georgia Bulldogs and Auburn Tigers first started playing rivalry games, there had been no world wars. Relations between countries were relatively peaceful and football was a newfound pastime for Americans.
The dedication that Auburn and Georgia have to their annual football game is apparent. Since 1898, the teams played each other every year except for 1917, 1918 and 1943. Those years align with the first and second world wars.
In those 112 years, very little stood in the way of a football rivalry. That is commitment.
The Deep South’s oldest rivalry is one of the most competitive in college football. The Auburn Tigers lead the series by two games, holding a 54-52-8 advantage. After playing 114 games, a two-game separation is virtually nothing.
To make things more complicated, the Georgia Bulldogs actually have the advantage in points scored—1,809 to 1,771.
The definition of a great rivalry is that it does not matter how both teams have performed over the course of the season, because either one could win the rivalry game. In seeing these statistics, it is clear that Auburn and Georgia certainly fit the bill.
Despite both Auburn and Georgia being among the founding members of the SEC and, traditionally, two of the best teams, the Deep South’s oldest rivalry has never been played twice in one year.
Georgia has won the SEC title twice (2002 and 2005) and played in the championship game in 2003.
Auburn has also won the conference title twice (2004 and 2010) and has participated in the championship game another two times (1997 and 2000).
However, the two rivals have never faced off to decide the winner of the SEC.
The SEC has traditionally been known for their stingy defenses. Apparently, that defensive superiority can be traced back to the early 1900s.
The Auburn Tigers and Georgia Bulldogs have played five games in their 114-game history that resulted in 0-0 ties.
A scoreless game against a team’s biggest rival must be disheartening. Fortunately for both teams, the last time each side failed to put a point on the board was in 1937.
In 1942, the Georgia Bulldogs won their first national championship by beating UCLA 9-0 at the Rose Bowl.
Their record that season was 11-1.
The Bulldogs' only loss? To the Auburn Tigers.
Georgia lost to Auburn that year 27-13 at Columbus’ Memorial Stadium.
Georgia was able to recover and win their remaining games in order to earn a birth to the Rose Bowl. But don’t think that Auburn fans have forgotten to whom Georgia’s only loss was in their championship-winning year.
The Deep South’s oldest rivalry has been played in at least six different cities. In the early years of college football, most annual games were played in neutral locations so as not to give either team an advantage.
In 1960, however, the Georgia Bulldogs ventured to Auburn to play the Tigers at home for the first time in the series. At the time, none of the Tigers’ other rivals had agreed to travel to Auburn.
It would be 10 years before another southern team would agree to abandon the neutral site agreement. The Alabama Crimson Tide waited almost 30 years after Georgia did to make the trek.
In the last five years, there have been many emotional and heated exchanges between teams in rivalry games. Tempers can flare on both sides because of the intensity of the game. Teams can make mistakes and draw costly penalties.
The Auburn Tigers and Georgia Bulldogs take the cake in this category. Since 2006, the Deep South’s oldest rivalry has averaged 5.4 late hit and behavior-related penalties per game.
Because of the extremely competitive nature of the matchup, tension is high and the pressure is on. Both sides have let this anxiety boil over in the form of yellow flag after yellow flag.
In 1996, the Auburn Tigers and Georgia Bulldogs earned themselves yet another distinction in college football lore. The two teams took part in the first overtime game in the SEC.
Georgia would finish the season with a losing record and was down 28-7 at halftime. However, the Bulldogs rallied to tie the score at 28-28 at the end of regulation and the game went into overtime.
Georgia needed three overtime periods, but the Bulldogs eventually pulled out the win over their rivals, 56-49, in a game that epitomized the competitiveness of the rivalry.
Rumors around Auburn University vary as to the origin of the school’s battle cry. The most popular story, of course, centers around the Deep South’s oldest rivalry.
In 1892, during the first meeting between the Auburn Tigers and the Georgia Bulldogs, legend has it that a Civil War veteran was among the spectators at the game. The man had with him a pet eagle that he had found on the battlefield during the war.
The eagle broke free from his owner and began to circle around the football field during the game. As the bird flew, the Auburn offense drove down the field for the winning touchdown. Fans started chanting “War Eagle” to encourage their team.
The cheer has lived on in Auburn history after its fitting beginning during the very first Auburn-Georgia game 119 years ago.