What To Watch: Tigers vs. Bulldogs

Auburn, Ala.-- Georgia Coach Mark Richt will try and do something Saturday that his predecessor Jim Donnan never did--beat Auburn in Athens.

But Donnan is not the only Bulldog coach who the Tigers have baffled in Sanford Stadium. Before him, Ray Goff beat Auburn just once in four tries on his home field.

Richt is already a step ahead of toth Donnan and Goff when it comes to setting new standards for the Bulldogs. Just eight games into his head coaching career, Richt has already beaten long-time nemesis Tennessee in Knoxville, which the previous duo never did. In fact, the Dawgs had dropped nine straight to the Vols so that win was a huge accomplishment. However, Richt will find even more favor with Georgia fans if he can end his team's home-losing skid to Auburn.

The Tigers haven't been the only team in one of college football's oldest rivalries who has had success on the opponent's home field. But that all changed last year when the Tigers beat the Bulldogs 29-26 in overtime for their first victory over Georgia in Jordan-Hare since 1990. The Georgia faithful are hopeful that the Tigers brought back the home-field advantage to this series as the Dawgs and Tigers kick off the 105th-meeting between the two schools at 2:30 p.m. CST in a game being televised by CBS.

Here's a look at What to Watch in Saturday's renewal of one of the Deep South's best college football rivalries.

Georgia Tigers

Ever wonder why the Tigers have so much success in Athens? Coach Tommy Tuberville suggests that it could be that past and present AU coaching staffs have penetrated the Peach State's borders to find some of their best talent. This year's roster is no different as 24 players on the 2001 team call Georgia home.

The big question is will any of those players make a difference on Saturday? If the Tigers want to shut down Georgia's spread offense on Saturday, then AU defensive coordinator John Lovett can only hope that the Georgians he has on defense will be difference makers. Excluding the front four, six of his remaining seven starters all played high school football in Georgia. Those players are jack linebacker Dontarrious Thomas (Perry High), middle linebacker Tavarreus Pounds (Villa Rica High) , rover Rashaud Walker (Southwest Dekalb High, Decatur), free safety Donnay Young (North Clayton High, College Park), and cornerbacks Roderick Hood (Carver High, Columbus) and Carlos Rogers (Butler High, Augusta).

Auburn has just one starter on offense from Georgia, but he is an important one. Senior Daniel Cobb will make his third start of the season at quarterback. The Marietta native played his high school football at Harrison High where he was an All-American. He signed with Georgia and spent two seasons with the Bulldogs before transferring to Butler County Community College and then to Auburn.

Numero Uno

It's no secret that Auburn has dominated the Bulldogs on their home field the last two decades. Georgia was victorious only once in the 1980s and once in the 1990s at home vs. the Tigers. It's the years that Georgia won those two games that should give Bulldogs fans feeling like their team is due for a victory. In ‘81, UGA won 24-13 and in ‘91, UGA won 37-27. So what's going to happen in ‘01? One things is for sure, this game won't end in a 0-0 tie like the one these two teams played in Atlanta 100 years ago did.

Role Reversal

Georgia's starting quarterback, David Greene, is playing like a seasoned veteran while Auburn's Cobb is not. The problem for the Tigers is Cobb should be playing like one and the guy they are facing shouldn't be. Greene is just a redshirt freshman and Cobb is a fifth-year senior, but in fairness to both parties the Bulldog signal caller does have more career Division I-A starts than the Tiger signal caller. However, Cobb still has more career interceptions (six), than Greene (five) does and Auburn's QB accomplished that feat in five fewer starts.

Poise will be a big factor Saturday and what these two quarterbacks have done up to this point in the season won't dictate which team wins. What matters will be how each one manages their team and which one makes the fewest mistakes.

It's going to be an emotion-filled contest, as it always is, but there will be a little extra on the field with Cobb and Greene. Cobb returns to the stadium where he dressed out in the red, silver and black for two seasons, but never took a game snap. Greene gets the pressure of trying to end the Tiger jinx that has hung over Sanford Stadium for the better part of 20 seasons.

Auburn, as leader of the SEC West, has more on the line than Bulldogs, who look to be a longshot in the SEC East, but the home team will have more than enough motivation for this game considering their lack of recent success against the Tigers.

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