The Auburn Tigers (10-2) and the Georgia Bulldogs (11-1) meet this Saturday for the SEC Championship Game, in a rematch from three weeks ago. Auburn won that game decisively, 40-17, and the Bulldogs will be looking for revenge starting at 4:00 EST from Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The game can be seen on CBS.
For Georgia, they’re going to have to get things going on the ground this time. In their last meeting with Auburn, they gained only 46 rush yards on 32 carries. The Tigers took away their big playmakers, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, and controlled the line of scrimmage all game.
They also ran over a Georgia defense that had been strong all year, putting up 237 yards on the ground. RB Kerryon Johnson (1,276 rush yards, 19 all-purpose touchdowns) will lead the way once more for the offensive attack. QB Jarrett Stidham has been on his A-game recently, though, with a 21 for 28 effort passing versus Alabama. He’s completed passes at a 67%-plus rating in each of the past five games.
Auburn has become one of, if not the most balanced team in the country. Their defense has been swarming opponents, holding Georgia to under 50 yards rushing and Alabama to just over 100 passing. They closedown running holes well, but did have a minor setback against the big Alabama line (211 rush yards allowed).
Even so, the Tigers are slight favorites this Saturday, at two points.
Georgia can make all the adjustments in the world, but if they can’t match the physicality Auburn brings, it won’t matter. Georgia’s line got bullied on both sides of the ball, and if Auburn needs to, they’ll resort to that for a victory.
With the game not in Auburn, and Georgia being able to diagnose mistakes from their last encounter with the Tigers, this game will obviously be much closer. But Kerryon Johnson will be healthier for this game than he was last week. He had 167 yards in the first matchup, and can take a beating late in games and keep going.
But having Kam Martin take some of his carries is crucial, as they’ll have fresh legs in-waiting when the Auburn line wears down the Georgia front in the 4th quarter. The pass game wasn’t off either when Auburn played Georgia. It’s a balance that the Bulldogs have not had to handle with any of its other opponents.
Georgia can hope that they’re better suited to run the ball this time around. Chubb and Michel, after all, are a pair of college football’s best backs. But Auburn will once again be keying on them and them alone. They have the talent to keep up on the perimeter and the brute force to clog the gaps inside.
Trying to have freshman QB Jake Fromm become a game-changer is too much to ask. He hasn’t had to take over a game all year, and isn’t prepared to do it here against one of the best teams in the country.
This will be a lower-scoring game for Auburn, and that will keep it close for the majority of the contest. But Auburn will come out on top with a spread that’s nearly a straight pick. They’re on fire right now, so don’t expect that to stop with a team and rival they feel confident against.