Auburn didn't respond like a mature football team trying to match up with a talented and highly-motivated opponent in a rivalry game.
Georgia came into the contest as a team that was improving and eager to show it. After losing their first two games and being told they were no good, and how their coach was going to be fired, the Bulldogs had something to prove.
The criticism continued as the Bulldogs followed the two opening losses with mistake-filled performances that caused Georgia to struggle to beat average football teams they should have handled with ease.
Although Georgia came into Saturday's game without any impressive wins, the Bulldogs found themselves in a great situation. All they had to do to earn a spot in the SEC Championship Game was beat Auburn and they could make reservations in Atlanta. Of course, the Bulldogs still have to beat Kentucky this weekend to officially clinch the title, but that will be no contest.
With South Carolina holding off Florida and defeating the Gators before the Tigers and Bulldogs kicked off in Athens, if Georgia needed any more incentive to play well against Auburn that was it because a loss to the Tigers would put South Carolina back in the frontrunner position to play in the league championship game.
Auburn arrived in Athens following an off-week and played like a team that had lost its edge. Sometimes that can happen. It has happened to teams I have coached. It happens with players and it happens with coaches when they go through an off-week and try to get their guys rested and well. You are petting on them, and so forth, and can lose your focus about the kind of intensity and effort needed to beat a talented, highly-motivated opponent playing in its home stadium with as much at stake as Georgia had.
If Auburn had traveled with an experienced football team to Athens led by a bunch of seniors and taken that kind of whipping, there would be more reason for concern. However, with the youth on the team I am chalking it up to being a growing experience. The players who were involved in that game should know better the next time. There is an old expression that scars make the toughest skin you have got and that game left a scar. The players won't soon forget what happened on Saturday.
Looking at other games around the SEC and the country on Saturday, several things stood out. Oregon was impressive against Stanford. In the big game of the weekend the Ducks looked about like they did last year and Stanford looked slow. Stanford didn't even look close to an SEC -type defense as far as speed and athletic ability are concerned, which made Oregon look even faster.
Boise State dropped from the ranks of the unbeaten for a second straight year because of a missed field goal. I have said many, many times that the kicking game makes a difference in close games and missing a short field goal allowed TCU to win at Boise.
I thought Mississippi State would put up a good fight against Alabama and the Bulldogs did that for much of their game Saturday night, but Alabama was too physically strong and took control late in the contest.
South Carolina got past Florida in what was a close game like I expected. In my opinion the Gamecocks are a little better than Florida, but neither team is real strong right now.
Arkansas continues to win and had no trouble with Tennessee. If the Razorbacks continue to improve that could be a real interesting game when they travel to Baton Rouge later this month to take on LSU.
(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to PatDye@autigers.com.)
Editor's Note: This is part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for AUTigers.com 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 AUTigers.com--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.