The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry gets renewed this weekend as the no. 12 Auburn Tigers play host to the no. 4 Georgia Bulldogs in an SEC showdown. Kickoff is set for 3:30 EST on Saturday, November 16 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama. The game will be broadcast nationally on CBS.
Georgia is currently listed as a 2.5-point favorite on the road. The over/under for the game is set at 44 points. Click here to check out a full list of this week’s college football odds.
The Bulldogs have their sights set on a trip to the SEC Championship Game and haven’t given up hope of playing in the College Football Playoff. Georgia has bounced back nicely from their loss to South Carolina last month with shutout wins over both Kentucky and Missouri with a win over rival Florida sandwiched in between.
At 8-1 and 5-1 in SEC play, the Bulldogs could lose either this week against Auburn or next week against Texas A&M and still play in the SEC title game. However, the Bulldogs can’t afford to lose both games. More importantly, Georgia has no chance to make it into the top-4 if they lose again. Their only path to the CFP is to win their three remaining games and then win the SEC Championship Game. If the Bulldogs can do that, there’s no doubt they’ll be playing in the national semi-finals.
As for Auburn, their SEC title hopes are all but dead unless LSU suffers a shocking collapse at the end of the season. The Tigers have suffered road losses to both LSU and Florida this season, dropping them to 7-2 overall and 4-2 in SEC play. They are also coming off a close call last week against Ole Miss, hanging on to win 20-14.
However, the Tigers would have a compelling case for a top-4 spot if they win the rest of their games and finish 10-2. Obviously, that would mean beating both Georgia and Alabama over the final three weeks of the season. Combined with a win over Oregon and the fact that both of their losses were on the road against top-10 teams, Auburn could argue that they’re one of the four best teams in the country. Of course, they actually have to beat Georgia and Alabama to state their case.
Outside of these two teams being among the best in the country, Auburn and Georgia also have one of the oldest rivalries in the country. This series dates all the way back to 1892 with Georgia holding a 59-56 all-time lead with eight ties mixed in. More recently, Georgia has owned this rivalry, winning 11 of the last 14 meetings. That includes a win in the 2017 SEC Championship Game after the Bulldogs lost to Auburn during the regular season. Georgia won last year’s game 27-10, but Auburn dominated 40-17 the last time the Bulldogs visited Jordan-Hare Stadium in 2017.
Crazy things tend to happen in this rivalry. Look no further than the “Prayer at Jordan-Hare” during Auburn’s miraculous win over Georgia in 2013. However, I like how Georgia has responded to their loss to South Carolina. Since that loss, they have conceded little defensively and gotten back to running the ball, which is their biggest strength. I think Georgia’s defense and running game are good enough to beat Auburn, even on the road. With the spread at less than a field goal, I like the Bulldogs to cover.
While Auburn has a top-notch defensive line, the Tigers have given up chunk yards in the running game in their losses to Florida and LSU. That could be a problem against Georgia, especially since the Bulldogs aren’t likely to abandon the run. They’ll keep testing the Auburn run defense and should eventually find some running room and create some big plays.
The Auburn defense has also been susceptible at times against quality quarterbacks. LSU’s Joe Burrow and Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond both threw for over 300 yards against the Tigers. I’m not sure if Jake Fromm can replicate that production for the Bulldogs given Georgia’s youth at wide receiver. But once the Bulldogs establish a productive running game, Fromm can be dangerous in play-action, which is something Auburn will have to respect.
Meanwhile, I question how Auburn quarterback Bo Nix will handle himself against the Georgia defense. Nix has turned in a solid freshman campaign, but he’s struggled against both LSU and Florida. He’s completed just 56% of his passes on the season, and if you take away the game against lowly Arkansas, he has just five touchdown passes to four interceptions in SEC play. Unless the Auburn defense can hold Georgia to under 20 points, I’m not sure Nix and company can produce enough offense against one of the SEC’s elite defensive teams.
To be honest, I came close to taking Auburn in this game because I don’t think the talent gap between these teams is that great. The Tigers are also unbeaten at home this year and have given Georgia tough games at Jordan-Hare in the past. But I’ve been impressed with the Bulldogs over their last three games and I think they’ll continue to play at a high level and be able to cover a 2.5-point spread on the road.