What a wild ride it's been for Georgia this year and for Auburn this last several days. Georgia comes into this game at 5-5 but having won 4 of their last 5 ball games. Auburn comes into the game undefeated and ranked #2 in the current BCS Standings. Auburn was having a dream season (and still could be) but has recently seen it start to derail due to allegations over Cam Newton and his father.
This is the "Deep South's Oldest Rivalry" as they have played 113 times with Auburn leading the series 53-52-8. This series has been so close that Georgia leads in total points scored in the series by only 56 points after 113 games! Auburn comes into this game as the odds-on favorite as they are a National Championship contender and Georgia has faltered and has only won half of their games. That being said, Georgia has won the last 4 games in this series and Mark Richt is 6-3 against Auburn with a 3-1 record at Auburn. Here is what Georgia needs to do to win this game:
ESTABLISH THE RUN AND CONTROL THE CLOCK
Georgia's best defense against Auburn's high powered attack and Cam Newton might just be to keep them off the field. Statistically Auburn is pretty good against the run as they are 18th Nationally giving up 114 yards per game. That being said, Georgia is ranked 14th Nationally and we've seen them give up some big yardage on the ground to the likes of South Carolina, Colorado and Mississippi State. Georgia needs to establish Washaun Ealey and Caleb King early and then work off of the play-action pass and get the ball to it's playmakers: A.J. Green (85 rec yards/game and 7 TD in 6 games), Kris Durham (9th in the Nation at 19.7 ypc), Orson Charles and Tavarres King (3rd in the Nation at 20.4 ypc). Redshirt Freshman Aaron Murray has shown a lot of poise and moxie this year and is currently the 18th ranked QB in terms of passer efficiency in the nation. Murray had a tough first half against Florida but battled back to come very close to leading Georgia to a come from behind win. Murray has to come out poised and settled in the first half of this game as the atmosphere will be wild. The more Georgia can control the clock the more it's defense will be rested and fresh when Cam and Auburn have the ball.
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WIN THE TURNOVER BATTLE
Georgia has done a much better job this year than they did last year in terms of turnovers. In 2009, Georgia finished 118th out of 120 teams. This year Georgia 21st in the country. Unfortunately, Georgia lost the turnover battle against Florida and that was the single deciding factor in their loss in Jacksonville. Georgia turned the ball over 4 times and got just 1 turnover and they lost the game in Overtime. Georgia needs to protect the ball against Auburn and not put themselves in a position where they have to defend on a short field.
When you are playing an undefeated team that is in the National Championship hunt there is no settling for Field Goals. Georgia needs to attack and they need to score Touchdowns. Auburn's defense has given up some points this year (43 to Arkansas, 34 to Kentucky, 31 to Mississippi) as they rank 55th in scoring defense. Georgia has had 47 red zone attempts this year but has settled for a FG in 27% of these situations. This is a game where Georgia needs to go for the jugular when they smell blood.
I think those are the 3 biggest things Georgia can do to win this football game. I also think it's important for Georgia not to get down early. The Auburn fans are looking for an opportunity to let out their emotions. If Georgia can get up early they could calm the beasts that will be in the stands on Saturday. If Auburn gets up by a score or two early it will be total pandemonium. I also think Special Teams will be very important. Georgia needs to get points out of their Special Teams, and I already mentioned that I don't want them to settle for FGs so that means that Brandon Boykin and Brandon Smith need to make something happen. I think Georgia has a legitimate shot to win this game but right now I am leaning towards Auburn winning this game by about 10 points. Despite losing 5 games this year Georgia has only lost by a total of 35 points and their biggest loss came by only 12 points. Georgia will be in this game. Can they make the plays to shock the Top 25 and their rival?