No. 5 Georgia will host No. 24 Auburn Saturday night in the 125th edition of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. The Bulldogs wrapped up the SEC East title with a win over Kentucky last week, but despite a date with Alabama in early December already set, they can’t afford a slip up in the race for the College Football Playoff.
The Tigers won a thriller over Texas A&M last week, coming back from a 10-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham hit freshman Seth Williams with an 11-yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone with 1:41 left for the game-winning score.
Date: Saturday, Nov. 10 | Time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Sanford Stadium — Athens, Georgia
TV: ESPN | Live stream: WatchESPN
Auburn: Stidham shined late thanks to the heroics of Williams and an unbelievable catch-and-run the play before to get the Tigers in the red zone. But don’t be fooled by how the game ended — the Tigers still have massive problems. They rushed for just 19 yards against the Aggies, and have only topped the 150-yard mark on the ground as a team twice this season (vs. Alabama State and Ole Miss).
Defensively, you know what you’re getting from the Tigers. Derrick Brown leads a stellar defensive line, Deshaun Davis is one of the best linebackers in the country and the secondary has capitalized with nine interceptions on the season. At times, they’ve run out of gas after carrying the team on their back thanks to the struggles of the offense. Can you blame them?
Georgia: Coach Kirby Smart’s most important battle moving forward is against complacency. Sure, the division is wrapped up, but with a loss to LSU on the resume, the Bulldogs can’t afford another one if they want to return to the CFP. Quarterback Jake Fromm has bounced back from that loss over the last two games, tossing four touchdowns — all on third down in wins over Florida and Kentucky. The running game has picked up during that time, too, thanks to star D’Andre Swift bouncing back from some nagging injuries that have limited him.
The run defense has been suspect most of the season, but holding Benny Snell and the Wildcats to just 84 rushing yards and 2.4 yards per attempt is a good sign moving forward. If that can continue, the Bulldogs will complete the puzzle and return to the form that earned them the SEC title last season.
Game prediction, picks
You never can predict exactly what will happen in rivalry games, but I’m pretty confident about how this game will go. The Bulldogs will shut down Auburn’s putrid rushing attack and force Stidham into some dicey situations against a tough pass defense. But Stidham has improved over the last couple of games, and will have enough success to keep the Bulldogs sweating. Swift, Elijah Holyfield and the rest of the rushing attack will wear down the Tigers and pull away in the fourth quarter to notch a win — but not a cover. Pick: Auburn +14
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