The latest iteration of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry features a couple of evenly matched teams. While conference championships are not on the line, this one has provided some memorable moments in recent history. Blogcritics’ Jay Skipworth and Josh Hathaway present cases for both teams and offer their picks for the game.
This game will be televised Saturday on ESPN2 and 7pm E.T.
Three Reasons Georgia can win by Jay Skipworth:
1) A.J. Greene
Green leads the SEC in receptions per game and receiving yards per game, but the statistics only tell a part of the story. This guy is an absolute force on the football field. He fights for catches, yardage, and does his part as a blocker in the running game. He’s not afraid of contact and makes big plays when he is asked to. Not to mention, Green made a few key catches – including the game winner – on the road as a freshman last year against a better Auburn defense. Couple all of that with how desperately thin Auburn’s defensive backfield is and it is a recipe for trouble for the Tigers on Saturday
2) Rush Defense
Georgia’s squad ranks fourth in the SEC against the run. (However, it should be noted the 120 yards per game average is nearly double that of the top rushing defense – Alabama – and almost a third more than the second place team – Florida). That’s the key to slowing down Auburn’s offense. I don’t know if Georgia can stop Auburn running the ball, but they can contain it and with Auburn down to really two backs in rotation (Tate and Fannin and the latter is used sparingly), that favors the Bulldogs. Watch for fumbles from the Auburn backs in this game as well. That could very well turn the course of this game.
3) Red Zone Offense
A couple of statistical facts about Georgia: when given the opportunity in the red zone, Georgia scores points. As impressive as that, Georgia is one of two teams with zero turnovers in the red zone (Arkansas is the other team). When given the opportunity to stop opponents in the red zone, Auburn is as sure a thing to give it up as Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.
Rebuttal by Josh Hathaway
Jay, you're reaching here. Auburn averages 200 yards on the ground and Georgia gives up over 100. If Auburn gets somewhere in the middle, they've gone a long way towards winning this game. A.J. Greene is a fantastic wideout. What Georgia has discovered this season, though, is that it doesn't take a lot to limit one wide receiver in a one-dimensional offense. Greene will make a couple plays. He'll catch 7-10 balls, get his 100 yards, and probably get into the end zone. Once. Maybe twice. Raise your hand if you think that Bulldog defense is going to hold Auburn to under 14 points. This is a game to bet the over. Georgia's other playmakers are ordinary by comparison. Neither team defends so it comes down to this: Auburn can outscore these guys.