The Dye-Gest: Have the Tigers Grown?

Pat Dye, who played and coached in the series that is the SEC's oldest rivalry, gives his views on this week's Auburn-Georgia game.

A football game that is always important to Auburn fans is taking place in Athens on Saturday. I would like to think the Tigers have grown up a lot in the course of the season, and going into the Auburn-Georgia game this team should have grown up a lot considering how much playing time the youngster have received in the first nine games. How mature the Tigers are will have a lot to do with the outcome on Saturday.

I expect to see an Auburn team that is as fresh and as healthy as it is going to be this season. I think we will get a better read on how good Auburn is, and how good Georgia is, although I think Georgia is pretty good. The Bulldogs have an experienced quarterback and the team is playing as well defensively as anybody in the SEC with the exception of LSU and Alabama.

Offensively, Georgia has some weapons and the Bulldogs have one of the biggest offensive lines in America.

If the Auburn kids are going to grow up this season, now is the time to show it. I am confident their coaches will give the Tigers a good plan to win in Athens. I am confident the Tigers will go over there and play hard.

That Auburn-Georgia series is a quirky thing. The team that is favored to win doesn't always win, and sometimes doesn't come close to winning.

Another interesting thing about Auburn-Georgia games is that sometimes when they are expected to be close they get one-sided. It is a great rivalry and the two teams have been playing forever. In addition to coaching in 12 of them at Auburn, I played in three myself on the other side and I remember each of them. I expecting a great game on Saturday.

The outcome of this year's game will have a major bearing on Georgia's season, but it is also big to Auburn's season. The Tigers are sitting at 6-3 and this game will have a bearing on Auburn's postseason, too. The Tigers have lost to three teams that are ranked in the Top 10, all on the road. Getting this victory would be an impressive addition to the victory column and would make this team worthy of going to a good bowl game.

Against Georgia I think the Tigers will be able to protect the quarterback better than they did against LSU. This should be a big test for Clint Moseley. He never had a chance in Baton Rouge. I think he will get a chance to make plays against Georgia. It will be interesting to see how he performs. If he does a good job passing the football, I think the Tigers will have an excellent chance to be successful running the football, but for that to happen the Georgia defense must respect the pass.

Elsewhere around the league this week, Alabama will be trying to bounce back from its loss to LSU as it travels to Mississippi State. Starkville is not an easy place to play and Alabama will have to get over the disappointment of losing last weekend.

Alabama has more talent than Mississippi State, but I expect it will get Mississippi State's best shot. We don't know exactly what that will be although the Bulldogs appear to be playing a little better since they changed the quarterback. I think this will be an interesting game. I also think it will be closer than many people think and who knows, maybe Mississippi State will have a chance to upset Alabama.

South Carolina is in a must-win situation vs. Florida to stay in the SEC East race, but is reeling with its struggles on offense compounded by a concussion suffered by quarterback Connor Shaw in the loss to Arkansas.

Florida broke its four-game losing streak last week and is trying to position itself for a good bowl trip so I expect Coach Muschamp will do everything in his power to get the Gators ready to play at a peak level on Saturday. With the game being in Columbia, I think the Gamecocks will be tough to beat, but the Gators have a lot of athletes so this should be a very close game.

The big game nationally this week is Stanford vs. Oregon. A lot of the coaches I talk with on our weekly Legends Poll conference call, who are very familiar with the Pac 12, believe that Stanford is going to win and stay unbeaten. Oregon is very good so this is going to be a major test for Stanford, but I like Stanford's chances because they have Luck with a capital L.

(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to

Editor's Note: This is part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for about the game he played and coached. An All-American player at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn, he also served as a head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming. Dye participates in the Legends Poll, a Top 25 rating of the best teams in college football as determined by a panel of all-star former head coaches. Dye writes three columns for Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.

Premium Subscription Signup

Pat Dye's Crooked Oaks Hunting Preserve and Lodge

Pat Dye's Quail Hollow Gardens

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories