The Georgia Bulldogs suffered their only loss of the season, and quite an embarrassment to boot, when they last faced the Auburn Tigers. Now they will have an opportunity to get some payback and at the same time have a chance to advance to the four-team college football playoff. They will be practically a home team when these teams meet up for the SEC title on Saturday at 4 PM ET at the brand-new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
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The last meeting was at the same time a nightmare for Georgia and a breakthrough for Auburn, and it represented a disaster for Georgia from the perspective that it could not run the football at all, much less the way they have been used to. In fact, statistics from thar 40-17 loss indicate that the two big guns in the Bulldog backfield – Nick Chubb and Sony Michael, were limited to 27 and 21 yards, respectively. And since this is not the kind of team that can exist primarily through the pass, that meant a rough day for Georgia’s freshman quarterback, Jake Fromm, who completed just 13 of 28 and was sacked four times. Naturally Auburn would like to have a repeat of that scenario, but Georgia is liable to come with a few wrinkles to make that task a little more difficult.
Auburn is sitting with a record of 10-2 straight-up and 6-6 against the football pointspread. They are ranked fourth in both major polls, Georgia, is #6 in both the Associated Press and Coaches poll. The Bulldogs are 11-1 straight-up and 8-4 ATS. As of this writing, the latest Playoff Rankings had not yet been unveiled.
In the SEC championship betting odds posted on this game by the folks at VietBet, Auburn is the favorite:
Auburn Tigers -2.5
Georgia Bulldogs -2.5
Over 49 points -110
Under 49 points -110
Auburn out-rushed Georgia by a margin of 237-46 in the previous meeting, which took place just a few weeks ago. The ability of the Tigers to stop Kirby Smart’s offense on early downs put Fromm into difficult situations that he has not been accustomed to working through, so it is critical that Georgia establish that running game early. When faced with favorable conditions, Fromm can operate quite efficiently; he was 62% accurate on the season and threw 19 touchdown passes, and most importantly, he has only five interceptions on the season, so he has the ability to keep this team out of bad situations with costly mistakes.
Both of these teams will come with a lot of defense; Georgia is 10th overall in the metric of Efficiency, and 17th best in Rushing Success Rate. Only two teams have scored more than 19 points against them, and they have surrendered an average of 13.8 points per game.They are also 10th best in the NCAA statistics for pass efficiency defense, and that is something they will be looking to “enforce” against Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham, the Baylor transfer who had three touchdown passes against them in the earlier meeting. As many VietBet patrons are aware, Stidham is a better pure passer than Gus Malzahn has had in recent editions of the Auburn offense, so he offers an additional dimension.
Georgia put the clamps on in-state rival Georgia Tech last week, holding them to a season-low in rushing and winning by 31 points. Naturally, the triple option is a little different than the spread offense of Auburn. But it’s still pretty good for this team’s “mojo” to have done such a good job up front last week.
Auburn is a team that’s done a really good job against opposition rushing attacks as well, and if we take the advanced metrics, they are #9 in Rushing Success Rate on defense. In last week’s 26-14 victory over Alabama in the Iron Bowl, they did allow a little over five yards per carry to the Crimson Tide, but kept Jalen Hurts from making a huge impact with his arm. That was obviously a very credible performance, but you have to wonder how much this team would have left in the tank coming back from such a huge victory as a home underdog against the heated rival, and for the West division title, then traveling, in effect, into the backyard of a highly-ranked opponent. In a situation like this, taking the payback angle into account a little, we have to side with grabbing the points with the Bulldogs.
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