Series record: Auburn leads 54-52-8.
2011 National Rankings:
Rush Offense: 31st/Rush Offense: 43rd
Pass Offense: 108th/Pass Offense: 39th
Total Offense: 89th/Total Offense: 37th
Scoring Offense: 70th/Score Offense: 26th
Rush Defense: 84th/Rush Defense: 8th
Pass Defense: 50th/Pass Defense: 24th
Total Defense: 75th/Total Defense: 7th
Scoring Defense: 70th/Score Defense: 23rd
The Bulldogs are now in the driver's seat to win the SEC East with South Carolina's loss to Arkansas this past Saturday. After starting the season with two losses, Georgia is currently on a seven-game winning streak.
A victory over Auburn would equal the most consecutive games won under Coach Mark Richt in one season. The Bulldogs have compiled a 103-36 record, including two Southeastern Conference championships, with Richt as head coach. During the same time span, Auburn has compiled a record of 99-38, which also includes two conference championships and a BCS national championship.
Quarterback Aaron Murray is having a solid sophomore season, but not quite as productive as his freshman year. Murray finished the 2010 season as the No. 14 rated passer in the country and this season he has fallen to No. 21.
Freshman running back Isaiah Crowell leads the Bulldogs in rushing with 689 yards at 4.7 yards per rush. The Bulldogs have three players with more than 25 receptions for the year in Orson Charles (TE), Malcolm Mitchell (WR) and Tavarres King (WR).
Through nine games the Bulldog offense is No. 59 nationally in third down conversions and No. 70 in red zone offense. The loss of running back Richard Samuels to an injury is a setback to the offense. During the last two games vs. BCS opponents Samuels was a primary rusher with 32 carries to the 28 from Crowell.
Linebacker Michael Gilliard leads a vastly improved defense with 54 tackles this season. Linebacker Jarvis Jones leads Georgia and the Southeastern Conference with 14 tackles for lost yardage, which includes eight sacks, which also is No. 1 in the conference. The Bulldog have seven different players with at least four tackles for lost yardage this year.
Safety Bacarri Rambo leads the Bulldogs with six interceptions along with seven pass breakups. The Georgia defense is No. 17 nationally in forced turnovers, No. 20 in tackles for loss and No. 4 in first downs allowed per game.
The Bulldogs have struggled on special teams this season, which could become a major factor in Saturday's matchup in the event of a close game. Georgia is No. 104 in net punting, No. 64 in punt return offense and No. 113 in punt return defense. The Bulldogs are No. 42 in kick return offense and No. 103 in kick return defense. Blair Walsh is 13 of 23 on field goals, down from his 20 of 23 performance in 2010. Walsh's struggles have forced Richt to look at another kicker, Brandon Bogotay.
Sophomore Michael Dyer leads Auburn's rushing attack.
Inside the Numbers...
•If Georgia holds Auburn to less than 200 yards passing, it will be the ninth consecutive game the Tigers have been held to under 200 yards passing. The last time that happened was in 1985.
•During the 36 games with Ted Roof as Auburn's defensive coordinator, the defense has given up more 200 yards rushing nine times. You would have to go back to 92 games before Roof's arrival to find nine more games in which opponents rushed for 200 yards vs. the Tigers.
•In the last six meetings against the Bulldogs, Auburn has allowed 393 yards and 32 points per game.
•During the last six meetings against Georgia, Auburn has thrown seven touchdown passes with 12 interceptions. Georgia has thrown for 11 touchdowns and only one interception.
•Since 1983 Auburn is 14-3-1 against the Bulldogs when the Tigers finished with more rushing yardage.
•Barrett Trotter has averaged an impact play every 5.5 pass attempts this season. With Clint Moseley at quarterback the Auburn pass offense has a ratio of 1 every 3.7 attempts, a 33 percent increase.
•During Trotter's last four starts he averaged 5.2 yards per pass attempt. Moseley has averaged 9.4 yards per attempt in his three starts.
•During the last five games against Georgia, Auburn's leading rusher at the tailback position averaged 60.8 yards, posting a 1-4 record against the Bulldogs. During the previous six games (2000-2005), Auburn's starting tailback averaged 128.0 yards rushing against the Bulldogs, compiling a 4-2 record.
•During the last 25 meetings against the Bulldogs, Auburn is 10-2 when its starting quarterback has a pass rating above 130.0 during the game. The Tigers are 3-9-1 when the starting quarterback has a rating below 125.0.
•Over the past 25 meetings against the Bulldogs, no Auburn receiver came close to producing like Karsten Bailey. In his three games starting against UGA, Bailey caught 21 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns.
•During the last nine meetings against Auburn, Georgia's leading rusher has averaged 90.4 yards per game at 5.25 yards per carry.
•Since 1990 Auburn is 7-3 against the Bulldogs when its leading tackler in the game was a linebacker. Auburn is 4-6-1, when the leading tackler was a member of the secondary.
•Moseley is 5-8 in his pass attempts beyond 20 yards past the line of scrimmage for 165 yards and two touchdowns.
Why Auburn should win...
•Taking the scoring averages and margins from the four common opponents projects an Auburn victory of 27-23.
•Auburn is 6-3 during its last nine trips to Athens.
•With the return of Emory Blake at receiver and Moseley's recent success as starting quarterback, the Auburn offense is closer to reaching its full potential.
•Despite Georgia's 7-2 record the victories have come against competition with a combined record of 28-35. Behind Boise State, Auburn will be the second best offense the Bulldogs have faced this season.
Why Georgia should win...
•Taking the scoring averages and margins from conference games only, a Georgia victory of 28-22 is projected.
•During the last 20 meetings between the two schools the team with the better record entering the game is 13-6-1.
•Georgia is 25-12 at home in conference play with Richt as head coach and Auburn under Gene Chizik is 6-5 on the road.
•In nine of 10 games against Richt's Bulldogs, the Auburn offense has been held to three touchdowns or less.
Former Auburn head coach Pat Dye recently made the statement, "Georgia is the third most physical team in the conference." I would imagine Coach Dye made this assessment based on the performance of the Bulldog defense, which is statistically one of the best in the country. Georgia is ranked No. 7 in total defense, No. 8 in run defense and No. 6 in pass efficiency defense.
The statistical comparison that stands out the most is Georgia's No. 20 ranking in tackles for loss and Auburn's No. 116 ranking in tackles for loss allowed. If Auburn is going to pull off the upset in Athens, the offensive line will have to play its best game of the season.
Auburn's coaching staff knows this will be an extremely physical game, which means the players will not only be called upon to take one on the chin, but will require the ability to get back up and dish one out. This game will not be won on one knockout blow or one quarter. Instead it will require a great combination of jabs extended over numerous rounds.
It will be difficult to run on this Bulldog defense, but it can be done with a good mixture passing. Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn will need to be creative in his play calling and the Tigers must be sound in their execution. Play calling and execution will take a backseat to the performance of Auburn's line, which has struggled this season due to inexperience and injuries. The good news is that Auburn will start the same five for the fourth consecutive game.
Auburn must rise to the challenge of being the more physical defense and it will start with stopping Georgia's running game. Under Richt, Georgia is 22-19 when the Bulldogs are held to under 120 yards rushing, scoring an average of 20.6 points per game. Keeping the Bulldogs under 24 points would be instrumental in Auburn's effort to come away with a victory in Athens.
Auburn has given up 183 yards rushing per game to conference opponents at 4.7 yards per pop, which can't be the case against the Bulldogs if Auburn is to win this Saturday. The key will be placing the Bulldogs in third and long, where they have struggled this season, which means holding Crowell in check.
Auburn's edge in special teams could be a major factor in the outcome of the game, but only if the offense and defense perform well. Making the Bulldogs play on a long field becomes less important if the Auburn defense struggles to force the Bulldogs off the field. If the Auburn offense fails to cash in on a short field, the advantage gained on special teams becomes less meaningful.
As well as the Georgia defense has played this season it did allow 273 yards rushing to South Carolina and 241 yards rushing to Vanderbilt before sacks and the leading rushers from UGA's six conference opponents have averaged 5.04 yards per carry. Auburn's offensive game plan will likely lean on a heavy dose of Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb, but it will require a strong performance from the line to make good things happen.
Look for the extra week off to benefit the Tigers. Since 1992 Auburn is 5-0 against Georgia with a bye-week heading into the SEC's oldest rivalry. This year's Auburn-Georgia game will be the ninth time the two teams have played on November 12th with Georgia winning only one of the previous eight. Though this statistic will have no legitimate baring on the outcome of this year's game, look for the Nov. 12th trend to continue and for Auburn to be victorious again. Auburn 27, Georgia 24
Around the Southeastern Conference...
Alabama over Mississippi State, 41-10
South Carolina over Florida, 27-21
Arkansas over Tennessee, 38-17
Vanderbilt over Kentucky, 24-17
LSU over Western Kentucky, 56-6
Louisiana Tech over Ole Miss, 28-27