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Auburn quarterback Bo Nix (10). (Photo by Mary Holt/Icon Sportswire)
October 8th, 2021
The No. 18 Auburn Tigers look to conquer the second-ranked Georgia Bulldogs for the first time since 2017, as these two teams clash in the latest rendition of the "Deep South's Oldest Rivalry" on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Only top-ranked Alabama is arguably more dominant than Georgia in college football at the moment.
The Bulldogs just posted their second consecutive shutout, against then-No. 8 Arkansas last weekend, as they downed the Razorbacks 37-0 in Athens.
The week prior, Georgia defeated Vanderbilt 62-0 on the road, and has surrendered just one defensive touchdown — which occurred in garbage time — through five games.
On Saturday, the Bulldogs face a familiar foe in Auburn, who has fallen in the last four, and eight of the last 10, in their long-running rivalry series.
The Tigers have lost by an average of 16.5 points in their four most recent matchups with Georgia, including last season's 27-6 drubbing at Sanford Stadium.
This season, the Bulldogs will confront a new Auburn regime, led by first-year coach Bryan Harsin.
The former Boise State head coach has the Tigers ranked 11th in points scored (40), 13th in rushing yards (238.2), and 17th in total yards of offense (478.0), but his team has yet to go up against a defense like Georgia's.
The Bulldogs currently rank first in the country in total yards surrendered, passing yards allowed, and scoring defense, as well as fourth in rushing yards allowed.
Points allowed by Georgia’s defense this season:vs Clemson: 3vs UAB: 0vs South Carolina: 13vs Vandy: 0vs Arkansas: 0Georgia’s defense has allowed 16 points this season. That’s an average of 3.2 POINTS PER GAME 😱 pic.twitter.com/Y4WVgccqAt— UGA Football Live (@UGAfootballLive) October 3, 2021
Points allowed by Georgia’s defense this season:vs Clemson: 3vs UAB: 0vs South Carolina: 13vs Vandy: 0vs Arkansas: 0Georgia’s defense has allowed 16 points this season. That’s an average of 3.2 POINTS PER GAME 😱 pic.twitter.com/Y4WVgccqAt
The Georgia offense is strong, but not quite on the same level as the defense.
Quarterback J.T. Daniels is questionable with an oblique strain, which could force backup Stetson Bennett (515 yards, six touchdowns, two interceptions) into his third start of the season.
Where the offense shines is in the ground game, with a loaded arsenal of running backs, including Zamir White (275 yards, four touchdowns), James Cook (215 yards, 6.2 yards per carry), and Kendall Milton (167 yards, 4.6 YPC).
Auburn's best chance to stay in this game is to rely on its eighth-ranked rushing defense to stuff the Georgia run game.
In last week's come-from-behind win against LSU, Auburn held its SEC counterpart to 33 yards on the ground and kept No. 4 Penn State to 88 rushing yards in the Tigers' 28-20 loss in September.
Whoever gets the start at quarterback for Georgia will need to do a lot more than Bennett did in the Bulldogs' win over Arkansas. The senior QB only completed seven of 11 passes for 72 yards, while the run game racked up 273 yards on 56 total carries.
Auburn quarterback Bo Nix will need another strong outing for his team, as well. The junior orchestrated the Tigers' comeback win last weekend by throwing a highlight-reel-worthy 24-yard touchdown to Tyler Fromm after Nix evaded a number of tackles. He also rushed for a fourth-quarter score, before Jarquez Hunter ran the ball into the end zone to put Auburn up 24-19 with nearly three minutes left in the game.
This is an INSANE touchdown from Bo Nix to Tyler Fromm pic.twitter.com/eUBzWCC274— Dayne Young (@dayneyoung) October 3, 2021
This is an INSANE touchdown from Bo Nix to Tyler Fromm pic.twitter.com/eUBzWCC274
Nix finished the night with 255 yards but completed just 52.3% of his passes.
His inconsistencies will haunt him against Georgia's top-ranked pass defense and will prevent Auburn from moving the ball effectively.
The hostile environment of Jordan-Hare Stadium will lend a huge advantage to Auburn to start the game, but Georgia's defense will settle in quickly and set the tone for this matchup.
Even with the Bulldogs' quarterback situation in flux, they have enough talent at running back to make something happen against Auburn's sturdy stop unit.
The Tigers will put up their best fight, but this Georgia team is too good right now to get beaten by anyone — save for, maybe, Alabama.
Score prediction: Georgia 31, Auburn 13
Our predictive engine is calling for Georgia to win outright and for Auburn to cover the spread. The total is expected to go Over 46.5 points.
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