Georgia Bulldogs Game 10 Preview: Auburn Tigers


The Georgia Bulldogs finally return home to Sanford Stadium after over a month away to take on the Auburn Tigers in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.

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Date: 11/5/2014
Kickoff Time: 7:15 pm
Venue: Sanford Stadium – Athens, Ga.
Series Record: Auburn Leads 55-54-8
Last Meeting: November 16, 2013 – Auburn 43, Georgia 38 (Auburn, Al.)
Radio: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network from IMG;
SiriusXM Radio: Channel 138/192
Internet Stream: WatchESPN

Latest Line: Georgia by 2.5

The No. 15 Georgia Bulldogs (7-2, 5-2 SEC) will meet the No. 9 Auburn Tigers (7-2, 4-2 SEC) for the 118th time in the renewal of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. This will be the final conference game for the Bulldogs, who now need to win this game, and have Missouri lose at least one more conference game to secure an SEC East title.

The Tigers are in just as precarious a position after last week’s game to Texas A&M was fumbled away, with Auburn needing to win out just for a hope of a tie atop the Western Division.

There will be no room for error in a game with two defenses that have had several shaky appearances this season and two offenses who depend on running the ball well and to control the clock.

If this was a great rivalry coming into this game, it just became an epic one this season with so much at stake for both teams.

Keys to the game:

Let’s start with what everyone knows will be a big key to this game – Todd Gurley. Georgia will want to turn him loose with a vengeance, and the Tigers are going to key on stopping him.

Gurley is going to be hungry to pound some bodies after being suspended since the Oct. 4 game against Vanderbilt. The junior tailback has been working out and practicing with the team, so hopefully for Georgia fans, the rust will be minimal. The combination of Gurley, Nick Chubb and Brendan Douglas (possibly Sony Michel, who is questionable for the game) will be what can carry Georgia to victory.

Another big key for the Dawgs will be quarterback Hutson Mason, who will need to use his arm and his healthy receiving corps to loosen up the Auburn run defense.

Auburn will also want to run the ball effectively against Georgia, but in a much different fashion. Rather than the traditional toss-sweep and dive plays, the Auburn attack relies on Gus Malzahn’s vaunted read-option attack, run by former UGA player, Nick Marshall. Last year the Malzahn rushing attack gashed the Bulldogs for 323 yards.

Georgia’s run defense is going to have to put up much more of a fight than they did against Florida, who didn’t have nearly the reputation for being able to run the ball that Auburn does.

Nov 1, 2014; Oxford, MS, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall (14) looks to pass against the Ole Miss Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Auburn defeated Ole Miss 35-31. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Strengths and Weaknesses:

Neither defense has shown they can stop a truly prolific offense. The Bulldogs rank 56th nationally in run defense (152 ypg) and 16th nationally in pass defense (186 ypg), a big switch from what most thought this defense would look like at the beginning of the year.

Auburn ranks 102nd nationally in pass defense (256 ypg) and 29th nationally in run defense (129 ypg). So there is definitely something there for the Bulldogs to exploit.

It’s going to be up to Hutson Mason to play at his best, and make sure that Auburn pass defense doesn’t have the opportunity to help load the box against Gurley and company.

We all know both Auburn and Georgia run the ball exceptionally well, but the passing games could become the X-factor in this game. Georgia’s improving pass offense is up to 193 yards per game, but still not stretching the field for plays over 20 yards or more, where they sit dead last in the nation.

Nick Marshall has been working on improving himself as a passer as well, with the Tigers throwing for a clip of 220 yards per game.

What does all this mean? Strength vs. weakness on both sides, and two extremely evenly-matched teams in a game that has huge implications for the SEC and national title chases.


This one could be considered a toss-up no matter how you look at it.

The Bulldogs don’t have Aaron Murray to bail them out if things start to get out of hand like last year, but that probably won’t be a problem. Emotion is going to be on the side of the Bulldogs, with a packed Sanford Stadium that has been waiting for a long time to see Gurley back in action.

The loss to Florida was an unfortunate wake up call, and Georgia will be coming out with a ton of emotion and fire, its possible this one could turn into an early first half blowout like several of the past games.

Still, Auburn is a quality team who also has a lot to lose, so its hard to discount them at all. Take the Dawgs and the 2.5 then say a little silent prayer for a Missouri loss.