Jake Fromm, Georgia Beat Auburn 27-10; D'Andre Swift Runs for 186 Yards, 1 TD

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistNovember 11, 2018

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 10: D'Andre Swift #7 of the Georgia Bulldogs carries the ball against the Auburn Tigers on November 10, 2018 at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs defeated the No. 24 Auburn Tigers 27-10 at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia, on Saturday night.

Georgia bolstered its College Football Playoff case by improving to 9-1, while Auburn fell to a disappointing 6-4 on the campaign.

After both D'Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield topped 100 rushing yards last week against Kentucky, the Bulldogs dominated on the ground once again Saturday.

Swift rushed for 186 yards on 17 carries, including a 77-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter that gave Georgia a three-score lead and essentially put the game away:

Holyfield added 93 yards, and the Bulldogs finished with 303 rushing yards as a team.

Sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm did throw one interception for Georgia, but he was largely efficient as he went 13-of-20 for 193 yards and two touchdowns.

The Bulldogs defense was also locked in, as Auburn was held to just 274 total yards of offense and went 3-of-11 on third downs.

Junior quarterback Jarrett Stidham had another shaky game for Auburn, going 24-of-36 for 163 yards with no touchdowns or picks.

Auburn took a 7-3 lead in the first quarter on a trick play that saw running back JaTarvious Whitlow throw a nine-yard touchdown pass to tight end John Shenker, but Georgia went on to score 24 of the next 27 points in the game:

The Tigers have now lost three of their past five games, and Saturday's loss means they haven't suffered less than four defeats in a single season since going 12-2 in 2013.

Georgia punched its ticket to the SEC Championship Game with last week's win over Kentucky, and after thoroughly dominating Auburn, the Bulldogs are playing their best football of the year at the most crucial point on the schedule.

     

Red-Zone Woes Will Cost Georgia in SEC Title Game

Georgia dominated Auburn after the first quarter of Saturday's game and won by a fairly healthy margin, but it could have been a blowout had the Bulldogs offense not sputtered so often in the red zone.

The Bulldogs twice settled for field goals in the red zone and missed on a fake field goal inside Auburn's 20-yard line as well.

Georgia's only red-zone touchdown came in the second quarter when Fromm threw a 14-yard scoring strike to Tyler Simmons.

Otherwise, the Bulldogs looked lost in that area of the field, as pointed out by former Inside Carolina reporter Dijana Kunovac:

Of Georgia's three touchdowns, two of them came on big plays.

The first was a 38-yard pass from Fromm to wide receiver Terry Godwin with 21 seconds left in the first half that put the Bulldogs in firm control.

Later, Swift scored from 77 yards out to put Auburn in a deep hole.

Michael Collins of FanSided joked that the splash plays were an ideal way to cover up their deficiencies in the red zone:

Scoring from anywhere on the field is a good asset to have, but the Bulldogs can't afford to settle for field goals in the red zone against elite teams.

Georgia is a few weeks away from facing the best team in the nation when it takes on Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.

The Crimson Tide are a well-oiled machine offensively with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa at the controls, and leaving points on the field is a surefire way to get blown out against 'Bama.

Georgia's only hope of beating Alabama and advancing to the CFP is making massive improvements over the next few weeks inside the 20.

     

Auburn Should Stick with Malzahn Despite Recent Struggles

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn has often been rumored to be on the hot seat during his six-year run at the helm.

That continues to be the case this season, and the whispers will likely grow louder after the Tigers looked overmatched against Georgia.

Earlier this week, Auburn athletic director Allen Greene gave Malzahn a vote of confidence by saying that he would be back in 2019, per AL.com's Tom Green: "He'll be the coach next year, and I'm confident that he's going to—he's already proven that we can get through adversity. Every team has it, and I'm looking forward to working with him for a long time."

Malzahn is 51-26 at Auburn, and they have just one bowl win during his tenure.

The Tigers have won double-digit games twice, however, and they reached the BCS National Championship Game at the end of the 2013 season.

Last season, Auburn upset Alabama and reached the SEC Championship Game, where it fell to Georgia before losing to UCF in the Peach Bowl.

Although the 2017 campaign didn't end ideally, it was a solid bounce-back following an 8-5 campaign in 2016.

There is no question that Auburn has taken a step back this season, and a big reason for that has been the inconsistent play of Stidham under center.

Mark Skoneki of the Orlando Sentinel expressed his belief that Malzahn should have benched Stidham already given his struggles:

It can be argued that Malzahn has slipped up in that respect, but his options are somewhat limited.

What shouldn't be ignored is that Auburn beat Washington and Texas A&M when they were ranked teams this season, and they lost by just one to a tough LSU team.

The Tigers still have a chance to end the season with a bang if they can upset Alabama in the Iron Bowl in two weeks, but even if they don't, Malzahn has earned at least another year to show he can establish Auburn as a perennial SEC power.

     

What's Next?

Georgia will be heavily favored next week when it hosts 4-7 UMass in what should amount to a warm-up two weeks ahead of its SEC Championship Game clash with Alabama.

Auburn will get a reprieve from what has been a tough stretch when it hosts the 4-5 Liberty Flames next week.

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