Wednesday, November 11, 2009
The Georgia Bulldogs enter the South's oldest rivalry miles away from preseason expectations of contending for a SEC Eastern Division crown. In many aspects, this Georgia team reminds me very much of Auburn. They have a quarterback that at times has been unstoppable, and at times dreadful. They have a defense that has given up yards galore to every legitimate opponent played. Offensively, they were on fire at the beginning of the season outscoring Arkansas and South Carolina only to seemingly be "figured out" by defensive coordinators across the league. When their QB is on, they win...when he's not, they lose. Sound familiar?!
Why Auburn Wins:
1. Game means more to Auburn players than Georgia players. Auburn has way more players on its sideline from the state of Georgia than Georgia does players from Alabama. Guys that I played with at Auburn that were from Georgia foamed at the mouth all week long for this game. Takeo Spikes would say, "You play your heart out for me against Georgia, I'll play my heart out for you next week against Alabama!" (extreme censorship with that quote)! It is a game these guys take personally and pour their heart out on the football field for.
2. We have recaptured our swagger! Back to back games with tremendous offensive production gives this team the confidence to believe and expect to go into Sanford Stadium and win the football game. Three weeks ago, I don't think this team believed that would be possible.
3. The last time I was in Sanford Stadium was 10 years ago, a heavy underdog to a Top 15 Georgia team in Tommy Tuberville's first season at Auburn. Ronney Daniels and Ben Leard completely torched the Georgia defense for a 31-0 halftime lead. Why does that matter? Because I'll be in the stadium again for the first time since that game...stars aligning!
Why Georgia Wins:
1. They will be one of if not the best offenses we've seen to date. Georgia will test this Auburn secondary deep all night long in a fashion much like Arkansas did. It's no secret our secondary is depleted and Georgia will work to exploit this from the opening whistle. How does Auburn win this battle? By stopping the run. If you make a team one-dimensional they have no chance.
2. Richt on the hot seat. Nothing motivates a team more than talk of the possibility of losing your head coach. No player wants to endure a coaching change...look no farther than Alabama players sobbing to keep Mike Price (again, scratching my head)! When your leader is threatened a sense of urgency and a "us against the world" mentality forms that many times can solidfy and bond a team. If Georgia has any senior leadership, this team will come out swinging with a fury.
3. Common Opponents- Georgia beat Arkansas and should have beaten LSU were it not for the infamous phantom celebration penalty call against A.J. Green. Auburn was throttled on the road by both. Tennessee embarrassed Georgia by an unexpected aerial assault by UT's Johnathon Crompton (did I really just type that last sentence...Kiffin deserves a raise for his work with Crompton as of late)! Auburn really dominates UT on the road in perhaps it's most balanced game of the season. Still, a slight advantage goes to the bulldogs in the common opponent realm.
Who Will Win:
Whoever tackles better and commits less turnovers wins this game. Both teams will score points in bunches. This has all the makings of an offensive track meet, a back and forth ESPN instant classic. I feel like this rivalry means more to the Auburn players therefore giving an emotional edge to Auburn. Tackling is all about desire and want to. Auburn will have more of both Saturday night between the hedges.