Georgia-Auburn preview: Can Dogs tie the series at 53-53-8?
Georgia vs. Auburn at a glance:
When, where, TV
3:30 p.m. Saturday, Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium, CBS
- 1. The Cam Newton Show. The Auburn quarterback, the most talked-about player in college football, will be on center stage. Will he be distracted by the rampant reports of alleged improprieties in his recruitment and academic record? Or will he run roughshod over Georgia, as he has over most opponents? (He is the only player in the country this season with five games of 170-plus rushing yards.)
- 2. Division title on the line. An Auburn victory would clinch the SEC West title and a berth in the Dec. 4 conference championship game in Atlanta for the Tigers -– regardless of what happens in their Nov. 26 game against Alabama. It figures to be an electric environment in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
- 3. Seeking a signature win. Although Georgia has won four of its past five games, it has not beaten a team with a winning record this season. The Bulldogs (5-5, 3-4 SEC) have gotten their wins over teams that currently have a cumulative record of 13-33. An upset of No. 2-ranked Auburn (10-0, 6-0) would certainly enhance the 2010 Bulldogs’ resume.
A Georgia win would . . .
- Make the Bulldogs bowl-eligible for the 14th consecutive season.
- Tie the all-time Georgia-Auburn series at 53-53-8.
An Auburn win would . . .
- Not only put the Tigers in the SEC championship game but keep them on track for a possible berth in the BCS title game.
- Break the Tigers’ four-game losing streak to Georgia, their longest in the series since the 1940s.
Keep an eye on . . .
- For Auburn: The Tigers have a dominating player on both sides of the ball –- Newton on offense and Nick Fairley on defense. The 6-foot-6, 250-pound Newton, from College Park, is the SEC’s leading rusher with an average of 114.6 yards per game; that includes a stretch of three SEC games – against Kentucky, Arkansas and LSU – in which he ran for 603 yards. The 6-5, 298-pound Fairley, a defensive tackle, leads the SEC in tackles-for-loss with 18 and ranks second in the league (behind Georgia linebacker Justin Houston) in sacks with 7.5.
- For Georgia: The Bulldogs figure to need a lot of points to stay in the game, and that will require a strong start-to-finish performance from quarterback Aaron Murray. He was shaky in the early going of the past two games against Florida and, even, Idaho State. “I’m hoping the last two games were just two random days and that that won’t happen anymore,” Murray said. “I’ve not been as accurate as I wanted to be to start games off.”
The numbers game
- 9-6: The road team’s record in the past 15 Georgia-Auburn games.
- 7: Consecutive years in which the Georgia-Auburn winner has been the team with the most rushing yards in the game
- 1996: The last year Georgia finished the season with a losing record in SEC games, 3-5. (The Bulldogs enter their final SEC game of this season with a 3-4 league record.)
The history book
- Series record: Auburn leads 53-52-8, although Georgia holds a 14-9-2 edge in games played at Auburn.
- Last meeting: Georgia won 31-24 in Athens last season as a 24-yard Caleb King run with 6:52 to play broke a 24-24 tie. Safety Bacarri Rambo saved the win when, with just over a minute to play, his hard hit dislodged a pass from Auburn’s Mario Fannin inside the Georgia 5-yard line. Rambo suffered a concussion on the play and spent the night in the hospital.
The bottom line
Auburn is favored by eight points. But given the records and rankings, a Georgia win probably would feel like a larger upset than that.