AUBURN, Ala. — Hello, and welcome to something you probably didn’t expect five weeks ago when Georgia got body-slammed at South Carolina: A potential SEC East Division-clinching game against Auburn.
Every trend and statistic says the Bulldogs should win this game. Easily. But if they needed any reminder that anything can happen on a college football Saturday, just check the Florida game.
I stopped at an Auburn tailgating spot to watch a few minutes of Florida’s game against Louisiana-Lafayette, and the Gators were trailing 20-13 with just under four minutes left. I figured, worst-case scenario, Florida ties it and I’ll watch overtime in the press box, so I walked away. But as I walked into the box, the Gators were kicking an extra point following a blocked punt and return for the go-ahead touchdown.
So much for that monumental upset. Nonetheless, it should serve as a monumental warning for the Dogs — and it’s certainly easy fodder for coach Mark Richt’s pregame speech.
OK. The Tigers stink. They’re 2-7 overall and 0-6 in the SEC. A brief summary of their statistical woes: They rank 13th in total offense (305.2), total defense (428.7) and scoring offense (19.2), 10th in scoring defense (27.3), last in rush defense (199.2) — no reason to wonder about Georgia’s plan of attack — last in sacks allowed (29), last in third-down conversions (28.8) and 13th in turnovers (20) and turnover differential (minus-nine).
In short, there’s probably no reason for Gene Chizik to refinance his home because he’s going to be putting that sucker up for sale soon. It would be an upset it Chizik wasn’t fired, especially with a drumming by Alabama still expected to come at the end of the season.
(As I write this, Texas A&M just took a 20-0 lead over Alabama. Like I was saying …)
No such problems for Richt and Georgia. The Dogs had the perfect confluence of events following their 35-7 loss to South Carolina: 1) They didn’t faceplant in the next three games; 2) They beat Florida; 3) South Carolina imploded. So here we are, with Georgia on the verge of clinching its second straight East title and a trip to the Georgia Dome.
Before I open the cyber-venting lines, here are a few links from this week to pass the time until kickoff:
• The setup for this game from Chip Towers.
• How the backdrop for these teams (and coaches) was flipped two years ago, by Tim Tucker. (Auburn was on the was to a BCS title with Cam Newton; Georgia was on the way to a 6-7 finish.)
• The work of the UGA’s offensive line to protect Aaron Murray, by Chip.
• The Dogs will face their last two defensive coordinators (Brian VanGorder and Willie Martinez), by Tim.
• My column on Richt’s disclosure that he will need hip replacement surgery, thanks to an old swing set injury.
• Finally, here’s my prediction for the game (and other sound investment advice) in Weekend Predictions.
One last observation: Chip, Tim and I encountered far less traffic than usual for an Auburn game. Could be an indication of the crowd for this one.
That’s it for now. Commenting opens in 3 … 2 … 1 …
By Jeff Schultz