Series Record: Auburn (55-54-8)
Last Meeting: (2013) Auburn, 43-38
About the teams:
Georgia's Mark Richt has a coaching record of 133-47, including an 8-5 mark vs. Auburn. Gus Malzahn is 28-7 all time, 19-4 at Auburn and 1-0 vs. Georgia.
Nick Marshall has a quarterback rating of 152.2 with 14 touchdown passes to just four interceptions. Sammie Coates and Quan Bray have combined for 45 receptions, 70 yards and five touchdowns for the Tigers.
Cameron Artis-Payne leads Auburn in rushing with 1,190 yards at 5.72 yards per carry. Marshall is No. 2 on the team in rushing with 698 yards, averaging 6.18 yards per attempt. For the second year in a row Auburn leads the conference in rushing.
Auburn has 59 tackles for loss on defense while allowing 45 on offense. This includes 17 sacks to eight sacks surrendered.
Jonathan Jones is No. 15 nationally with 12 passes defended and leads the Tigers in interceptions with five.
The Georgia ground game currently averages 256.3 yards per game led by Nick Chubb with 895 at 6.73 yards per rush. Todd Gurley is expected back this week with his 773 yards at 8.22 yards per carry. The Bulldogs’ trio of running backs, which includes Sony Michel, is lethal with a combined 219 yards per game at 7.42 yards per carry.
Nick Chubb runs vs. the Missouri Tigers.Hutson Mason has a quarterback rating of 153.1 with 15 touchdown passes and three interceptions for Georgia. Though not at the level of Aaron Murray, Mason has proven to be a very efficient passer.
The Bulldogs have 56 tackles for loss this season while allowing 48 on offense. Herrera leads the team with eight tackles for loss and Leonard Floyd leads the in sacks with five.
During four previous meetings against UGA, Malzahn's offense has averaged 394 yards and 31 points per game.
How they match up...
*Auburn’s run offense is ranked No. 8 nationally vs. Georgia's run defense, which is ranked No. 57. Georgia is No. 15 in rushing vs. Auburn, which is ranked No. 29 in run defense. Edge to Auburn.
*Georgia's offense is ranked No. 12 in pass efficiency vs. Auburn, which is ranked No. 59 in pass efficency defense. Auburn is No. 6 in pass efficiency vs. Georgia, ranked No. 28 in pass efficiency defense. Edge to Georgia.
*Georgia is No. 16 in yards per play on first down vs. Auburn's defense, which is ranked No. 87 in yards allowed on first down. Auburn is No. 28 in yards per play on first down vs. Georgia, which is ranked No. 9 in yards allowed per play on first down.Major edge to Georgia.
*Auburn is No. 2 nationally in third down offense vs. Georgia, which is ranked No. 31 in third down defense. Georgia is No. 16 in third down offense vs. Auburn, ranked No. 26 in third down defense. Slight edge to Auburn.
*Auburn is No. 11 in red zone TD percentage vs. Georgia, which is No. 116 on defense. Georgia is No. 14 on offense vs. Auburn, ranked No. 24 on defense. Major edge to Auburn.
*Auburn is No. 5 in generating run plays of 10-plus yards and pass plays of 15-plus yards vs. Georgia, which is No. 72 in defending those plays. Georgia is No. 18 in generating impact plays on offense vs. Auburn, which is No. 91 defending them. No Edge.
*Auburn is No. 10 in generating run plays of 20-plus yards and pass plays of 25-plus yards vs. Georgia, which is ranked No. 21 defending them. Georgia is No. 21 in generating big plays on offense vs. Auburn, ranked No. 81 defending them. Edge to Georgia.
*Auburn is No. 31 in turnover margin vs. Georgia, which is No. 4 nationally. Edge to Georgia.
*Auburn is No. 43 in tackles for loss vs. Georgia, which is No. 47 in tackles for loss allowed. Georgia is No. 55 in tackles for loss vs. Auburn, ranked No. 33 in tackles for loss allowed. Slight edge to Auburn.
*Georgia is No. 92 in net punting vs. Auburn, which is ranked No. 75. Slight edge to Auburn.
*Auburn is No. 1 in punt return offense vs. Georgia, which is No. 40 in punt return defense. Georgia is No. 21 in punt return offense vs. Auburn, ranked No. 73 in punt return defense. Slight edge to Georgia.
*Georgia is No. 25 in kick return offense vs. Auburn, ranked No. 102 in kick return defense. Auburn is No. 95 in kick return offense vs. Georgia, which is ranked No. 51 in kick return defense. Edge to Georgia.
Keys to victory...
*Both teams are heavily run-oriented. During the last 30 meetings the team with the most rushing yardage is 24-5-1.
*During the last four games Auburn has scored 27 points off of opponent turnovers, but has surrendered 35 points to the opponent.
*The Tigers have a huge advantage in the red zone and must take full advantage of this against Georgia.
*During the last four games Auburn has defended 301 snaps with 10 of those plays producing 435 yards or 22 percent of the yardage surrendered. Of those 301 snaps defended 15 percent of the plays have accounted for 58 percent of the yards allowed.
*During the first five games of the season the Auburn defense allowed 29 impact plays (15-plus yards). During the last four games Auburn has surrendered 44 such plays. Auburn must limit the Bulldogs’ big-play ability.
*Auburn runs the ball 79 percent of the time on first down and Georgia is more balanced, running 66 percent on first down. The Bulldogs are No. 44 in run defense on first down and Auburn is No. 69. It will be essential for Auburn to be successful running on first down plays.
*From 1992-2013 Auburn is 8-3 vs. Georgia when the Tigers don't lose the turnover battle and 2-8-1 when they do.
*A good start is essential for Auburn. The Tigers are 2-5 vs. Richt's teams when trailing after the first quarter and 1-6 when trailing at halftime.
What to watch...
*Georgia's Isaiah McKenzie could be a major wildcard in this game. He has a combined 25 punt and kick returns for touchdowns and an average of 20.9 yards per return.
*Can Auburn control the Bulldogs’ running game? Auburn has held its conference opponents to 23 percent below their rushing average. Georgia has gained 39 percent more rushing yardage than its conference opponent normally allows. This projects the Bulldogs to rush for 178 to 222 yards against the Tigers.
*Auburn should be able to run on the Bulldogs. In conference play Auburn averages 90.4 percent more rushing yardage than its opponent normally allows. Georgia’s defense has allowed its conference opponent to rush for 2.4 percent more yards than what its opponent normally gains. This projects Auburn to rush for 313 to 335 yards.
*Before the final bye week Auburn averaged 6.2 yards per play on first down, converting 54 percent of its third downs. Since the bye week Auburn has averaged 7.8 yards per play on first down, converting 59 percent of its third downs. The defense allowed 5.7 yards per play on first down, giving up a third down conversion rate of 33 percent. Since the bye week the defense is now allowing 6.5 yards per play on first down, allowing a third down conversion of 41 percent. Can Auburn out-play the Bulldogs on first downs?
*Can Auburn put Mason in to obvious passing situations Saturday night? For the season the UGA quarterback has a passer rating of just 93.3 when facing third and seven or more. Auburn’s Marshall has a rating of 153.2 under the same circumstances.
Cameron Artis-Payne leads the SEC in rushing.
*Artis-Payne is averaging 149.8 yards rushing this season in conference play. During his 13 career games of 10 carries or more he has averaged 115 yards rushing per contest. Auburn's leading rusher at the running back position has struggled during the last eight meetings against Georgia, averaging only 62 yards per game at 4.4 yards per rush. It will be vital for Artis-Payne to register another solid performance against the Bulldogs.
The Auburn offense has averaged 520 yards and 34 points during its last four games. The problem is the defense has allowed 487 yards and 36 points per game. On the road this season, Auburn averages 436 yards and 26 points and 415 yards and 28 points allowed per game.
The scoring projections from conference games projects a two-point Auburn victory. Looking at the trending last three conference games for both opponents projects a Georgia victory by six points. Give the Bulldogs three points for playing at home and Georgia wins by one to nine points. The Auburn defense has allowed too many explosive plays in recent games. During the first five the Tigers allowed six per game, but have allowed 11 per contest during their last four conference games.
Normally I would consider Auburn a heavy favorite with the probability of rushing for 300 yards. During the past two seasons Auburn has rushed for 300 or more yards in conference play, but the defense has allowed 477 total yards and 34 points per game during those contests. This includes last season when Auburn rushed for more than 300 yards against the Bulldogs and still needed a Hail-Mary pass to win the game, 43-38. Regardless of how successful the Auburn offense is against the Bulldogs, the primary concern will be on defense for the Tigers. The last five trips to Athens have not been kind to the Tigers. Auburn is 1-4 during those games, losing by an average score of 38-14.
If Auburn leaves Athens with a victory, it will take a complete team performance, which has been lacking the past four games. The offense has been the most consistent aspect of the 2014 team with the defense regressing each week since the loss to Mississippi State. Special teams have not performed at the level of last year's team, which has placed even more stress on the offense.
Marshall has performed exceptionally well since the last bye week and is 12-3 in conference play. He has averaged 260 yards per conference game and is responsible for 38 combined touchdowns. More than anyone else on the Auburn roster, Marshall will be extremely motivated to play well in this game because he began his college playing days as a defensive back for the Bulldogs. If he is not forced to compete against both defenses Saturday night, look for Marshall to lead Auburn to victory. Auburn 38, Georgia 35
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