The Georgia Bulldogs climbed to 9-0 on the season with a 24-10 victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks. Georgia’s win coupled with a Kentucky loss to Ole Miss resulted in the Bulldogs clinching the SEC Eastern Division title and will therefore be heading to Atlanta to play in the SEC Championship game on December 2. Including this season, Georgia has either shared or outright won 8 SEC Eastern Division titles and this year’s appearance in the SEC Championship game will mark Georgia’s first appearance since 2012.
Saturday’s game will be the 121st meeting between Georgia and Auburn, making it the fourth most played active series in the NCAA FBS. Dubbed as the “Deep South’s Oldest rivalry”, the Bulldogs and Tigers first squared off in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park in 1892 and have played annually since, with the only interruptions in 1917, 1918 and 1943 due to World War. With Georgia’s 13-7 win over Auburn in Athens last year, the Bulldogs improved their series lead to 57-55-8. The road team has a better record in the series as Georgia is 16-11-2 on the Plains while Auburn is 18-14 in Athens. Despite a stinging loss to Auburn in 2013 on miraculous TD reception from Nick Marshall to Ricardo Louis with under a minute remaining in the game known as the “Prayer at Jordan-Hare”, Georgia has had the upper hand in the series as of late winning 9 of the last 11 games in this series.
This will be the fourth time that Georgia and Auburn meet where both teams are ranked in the top 10; however, it will be the first such meeting where the Bulldogs are the higher ranked team. Auburn is 3-0 against the Bulldogs in games when each team is ranked in the top 10.
This year’s matchup will feature two of the SEC’s top scoring offenses and a pair of the league’s top defenses. Auburn is ranked second in the SEC in Scoring Offense (scoring 36.9 points a game) and third in the league in Scoring Defense (allowing 16.9 points a game). Georgia is third in Scoring Offense (scoring 36.9 points a game) and stands second in Scoring Defense (allowing 11.7 points a game). Both teams have been effective in Third Down Conversions this year with Georgia leading the league at 51.2% and Auburn second in the league at 46.7%. Additionally, the Bulldogs are second in the SEC in stopping teams on third downs at 31.5% while the Tigers are fifth at 33.6%.
Auburn is located in Auburn, AL, and has an enrollment of approximately 28,000 students. Auburn is coached by Gus Malzahn (42-20), who is in his fifth season as head coach at Auburn. The Tigers return 15 starters from a team that finished 8-5 including a loss to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.
Jarrett Stidham is the starting quarterback for the Tigers. The sophomore signal-caller started his career at Baylor before transferring to Auburn in late 2016. Joining Stidham in the backfield is starting tailback Kerryon Johnson. The junior tailback has become the Tigers’ featured tailback after fellow junior Kamryn Pettway was lost for the season with an injury. The Tigers have spread their pass receptions amongst several wideouts with junior Ryan Davis leading the Tigers in receiving yards (461 yds) and receiving TDs (4 TDs).
Heading into the game against the Bulldogs, Auburn is led in tackles by their two junior linebackers, Deshaun Davis (44 tackles) and Darrell Williams (40 tackles). Auburn has one of the best kickers in the country in senior preseason All-American Daniel Carlson. Carlson is a two-time Lou Groza finalist and has been named a 2017 Groza semifinalist. Carlson is now the SEC career scoring leader (440 points) and holds 12 Auburn kicking records.
Currently, Vegas has the Bulldogs as a 3 point road favorite with a total of 47 for the game. Kickoff time is scheduled for 3:39 EST PM from Jordan-Hare Stadium and the game can be seen CBS.