The Bulldogs (8-2, 7-1) defeated Auburn 38-0, marking the largest margin of defeat for the Tigers in the rivalry game known as “The South’s Oldest Rivalry.”
“We didn’t play very well tonight in any phase of the game,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. “The score, I think, pretty much indicated that. It was disappointing. That’s a very good team, certainly deserving of their ranking. But again, I didn’t feel we played well in any phase of the game. That’s why the result is what it is and we’re going to continue to swing away and improve.”
Georgia came out and dominated to the end. After holding the Tigers (2-8, 0-7) three and out to open the game, the Bulldogs began painting the scoreboard.
Quarterback Aaron Murray wasted no time, taking 2:05 to cap off a six-play, 76-yard drive with a touchdown pass to wideout Chris Conley.
The ensuing Auburn drive, however, showed promise. Driving to the Bulldogs 30-yard line behind the arm of quarterback Jonathon Wallace, wide receiver Quan Bray was dropped for a loss of 10 on a broken play.
“It was a reverse pass that we were trying to hit, and we just thought it was a good time to run it,” Chizik said. “We practiced it all week. Again, it didn’t pan out exactly the way that we had planned, but again, it was kind of a deceptive play in there that we felt had a chance to work.”
From that point on, the Tigers were unable to recover.
“We did some things early that, unfortunately, we were unable to recover from,” Auburn defensive tackle Jeff Whitaker said. “We have to keep fighting. That’s our motto around here.”
The Tigers had trouble sticking to that motto as Murray hit target after target, racking up 208 yards and three touchdowns on 18-for-24 passing.
With all three touchdown passes coming the first half, giving the Bulldogs a 21-0 lead, Georgia’s running attack found the end zone for the remainder of the game.
Auburn was unable to make it to the locker room before freshman tailback Todd Gurley capped off a five-play, 90-yard drive with a 6-yard score.
The Bulldogs’ final two scores came quickly and slowly. Both in the third quarter, kicker Marshall Morgan hit a 20-yard field goal to finish a 15-play, 73-yard drive. The next possession ended in three plays with running back Keith Marshall scoring almost untouched on a 62-yard run.
Gurley finished the night with 116 yards and a score on 11 carries, and Marshall recorded 105 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.
“It was bad,” Auburn defensive end Dee Ford said. “They ran the ball on us.”
A bright spot for the Tigers came in the play of Wallace, who started his second career game and first SEC contest.
“I think Jonathan did some things tonight that were good, and I think Jonathan had some opportunities in there that were missed,” Chizik said. “A lot of times tonight he had some pressure on him that we should have been able to pick up on a couple of occasions where they were blitzing and pressuring him. A couple of times he extended plays and made plays. I think it was kind of a mixture of all that.”
Wallace finished the night completing 15-of-22 passes for 181 yards, hooking up with wide receiver Emory Blake for six of his completions for 104 yards. The freshman said the Tigers rallied around him despite only 238 total yards of offense.
“They’ve been helping me with my confidence, as well,” Wallace added. “Just that trust factor that we have with each other is really great. The guys are really supportive. Hopefully we’ll be able to go in this week and come out with a win.”
Auburn plays Alabama A&M next Saturday at 1 p.m. in its home season finale.
“We are going to keep swinging away and we have two games left,” Chizik said. “We have a senior class who has to play their last game here at Jordan-Hare, and that’s going to be very important to us to come back and go to work and make sure that they come out of their senior season with their last game at home as a win.”
Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.