Photo by Bulldawg Illustrated
For the 121st time, the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry takes place on the gridiron. The two schools are only separated by 185 miles, resulting in many family feuds as well as recruits being sought after by both schools. The first meeting took place in 1892, with most meetings taking place in neutral-site Columbus until 1958. Starting in 1959, Georgia hosted Auburn in Athens on odd years through 2011. Due to Texas A&M and Missouri joining the SEC in 2012, the league office had to tweak the rivalry, making all SEC East teams play at their permanent SEC West rival during odd years. Had that change not been implemented in 2013, Georgia fans would not have had to live through the prayer at Jordan-Hare, as the game would have been in Athens and things most likely would have been different.
Though since that dreadful night for Dawg fans, Georgia has not lost to Auburn. They come into this game on a 3-game win streak, including last year’s upset in Athens against #8 Auburn 13-7. Auburn QB Sean White threw for just 27 yards as well as a pick six to Maurice Smith, Georgia’s lone touchdown of the game. Georgia can expect a bigger challenge this year, as Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham is averaging 221 yards per game through the air for the Tigers. The Dawgs ability to prevent big plays through the air is the biggest key to the game, as the rush defense should be fine. Kerryon Johnson does come in with 15 rushing touchdowns, but also only averages 5.2 yards per carry, which would be 5th best among Georgia tailbacks. In addition, 11 of Johnson’s 15 touchdowns have been from 5 yards or less, so he will not be the home run threat like Josh Adams was from Notre Dame. It should also be mentioned that Auburn running back Kamryn Pettway is injured, which is a break for Georgia, not having to face him the past 2 seasons.
This has been labeled the biggest SEC game thus far during the 2017 season, featuring two top 10 teams. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn needs a victory to settle the angst of their fans losing 3 straight to both of their main rivals, Georgia and Alabama. With that said, I believe Georgia has the edge in players as well as coaching. It has mentioned many times this week, how Kirby Smart was passed on by Auburn in December 2012 for the head coaching job in favor of Gus Malzahn. I expect a motivated Smart to lead UGA to a 24-17 victory over Auburn a Jordan-Hare, a stadium they are 16-11-2 since their first meeting at Auburn in 1960. I see the stats being Fromm 160-175 yards 1 TD 1 INT, Chubb 80-95 yards 1 TD, & Michel 60-75 yards 1 TD.
God Bless & Go Dawgs!