Friday, November 13, 2009
Auburn-Georgia Preview and Prediction: Deep Souths Oldest Rivalry
Auburn Tigers at Georgia Bulldogs
Line: UGA -4.5
The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry renews for the 113th time as the Auburn Tigers travel to Athens to face the Georgia Bulldogs. The Tigers lead the all time series 53-51-8, but have lost the last three meetings.
For many years the game was played off campus in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park or in Columbus, Ga. These schools are more like cousins than rivals though. Both share the Battle Hymn of the Republic as a fight song (not the fight song) and both have hedges surrounding their fields.
But maybe the biggest similarity is from the coaching ranks where prominent coaches at each schools’ past played at the other. Longtime Georgia coach Vince Dooley lettered at Auburn while former Tiger head coach Pat Dye played at Georgia.
On paper, this one looks like an offensive shootout with two good offenses and two sub par defenses.
Keys to the Game:
Who Can Stop The Run?
I do not see either QB lighting it up through the air in this game so I expect both teams to try and grind it out on the ground.
Auburn has been running the ball with ease all year and recently Georgia has turned to the running game too with success averaging nearly 200 ypg in their past three.
The defense that can slow the others running game down and force more passes on second and third down gives their team a big advantage.
Red Zone Conversions
Both teams have done a good job of getting points on the board once they get inside the 20, but Auburn is doing a better job at getting touchdowns as opposed to field goals.
However, on the defensive side of the ball Georgia has stopped the opposition one out of every seven times from even getting points and is also forcing a lot more teams to go for field goals than Auburn is.
The team that fails to convert in the red zone could be the difference in a close game.
UGA is minus 16 in turnover margin this year or -1.78 per game. They are a little bit better in their five wins with only a minus seven margin.
Auburn is plus four on the season, but is trending negatively over the past five games at minus 4.
The team that can reverse their turnover woes is likely to win the game.
Both teams will be able to rush the ball with some success, but as the game goes on I see Georgia’s defense coming up with more stops. In their past three games, they are giving up just 106 ypg versus Auburn’s 143 on the ground.
UGA has the better weapon in the red zone in 6’4” AJ Green who is back this week after sitting out last week with an injury. Also, Kicker Blair Walsh has showed good accuracy from long range.
The caveat to all of this is Georgia’s turnover problem that has yet to be solved. But Auburn has coughed up the ball a lot to in SEC play so their season margin is a bit misleading.
I like Georgia to survive an offensive shootout and win at home overcoming a tired Auburn team who is playing their 11th straight game of the year.
Georgia Covers -4.5
Link for more fun facts about this rivalry