College breakdown: No. 25 Georgia (6-3, 4-2 SEC) at No. 7 Auburn (9-1, 5-1)
by Ryan Black
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer
Nov 15, 2013 | 1380 views |  0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When: 2:30 p.m., today

Where: Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn.

Line: Auburn by 3

TV: CBS

Radio: 1070 AM, 100.5 FM

Four-down territory

1. Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry renewed: Saturday marks the 117th meeting between these two SEC blueboods, and the series is as tight as it can get, tied at 54-54-8. The teams have played every year since 1943, when Auburn didn’t field a team during World War II. They also took a break during the World War I years of 1917-18. Aside from that, the Tigers and Bulldogs have met continuously since 1892.

2. Back at home: Because of a scheduling quirk created when the SEC added Missouri and Texas A&M last year, the Bulldogs are traveling to Auburn for the second straight season. This marks the first time the game has been played in the same location in back-to-back years since they met in Columbus, Ga., every year between 1930-58 (not counting the cancelled game in 1943).

3. Top-flight tailbacks: Two of the SEC’s best running backs will take center stage in Saturday’s contest. Auburn’s Tre Mason is tops in the SEC in rushing touchdowns with 16, seven coming in the past two games. He also has scored a touchdown in six straight games. Georgia’s Todd Gurley has been every bit as productive when healthy. Despite missing three games this year because of an ankle injury, the sophomore still leads the team in rushing yards (625) and touchdowns. And his average of 104.2 rushing yards a game puts him at third in the conference, just ahead of fourth-place Mason (103.8).

4. Tackling tandem at linebacker for Bulldogs: Georgia’s Ramik Wilson leads the SEC in both total tackles (92) and stops per game (10.2). But he’s not the only Bulldog in the top five, as he’s joined by fellow junior linebacker Amarlo Herrera, who has collected 79 tackles, which is fourth-best in the SEC.

Key matchup

Auburn offensive line vs. Georgia front seven: It’s a stat that has been cited innumerable times this week, but it bears repeating once more: Auburn has thrown the ball only 16 times in the past two weeks. And it hasn’t hurt the Tigers a bit, as they have scored nine touchdowns on their 99 rushing attempts in the two games, which were both easy victories over Arkansas and Tennessee, respectively. The Bulldogs should prove to be a bit stiffer competition, as they own the fourth-best rush defense in the SEC. Georgia’s season-high in rushing yards allowed came against South Carolina, when the Gamecosk ran fro 226 yards. Saturday, the key to any chances at an upset on the Bulldogs hinge on whether they’re able to find a way to get in the backfield and gum up the Tigers’ rushing attack. If not, expect a similar result to the past two weeks, with Auburn keeping passes at a premium.

Prediction

Gurley has said there’s “no chance” he’ll be 100 percent for Saturday’s game. Despite this tidbit (and possibly a bit of sandbagging), Gurley at less than 100 percent is still better than most healthy running backs. For Georgia to have any chance at victory, he’ll have to be a workhorse, helping the visitors hold on to the ball for long periods of time to keep Auburn’s high-octane offense off the field. On the other side, the Tigers will likely be forced to take to the air more often than they have in recent outings, but that shouldn’t be too big of an issue, as Nick Marshall has shown he can win games with his arm if need be (see the Mississippi State victory). This contest should be a tight one throughout, but this Tigers squad just seems to know how to win in crunch-time. ... Auburn 41, Georgia 31.
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