Marshall: History Favors The Tigers

Phillip Marshall breaks down Auburn at Georgia and gives his picks for this week in the SEC.

It didn't start with Tommy Tuberville. It didn't even start with Pat Dye. It really started with Doug Barfield.

The Tigers routed Georgia 33-14 in 1977 on Barfield's first trip to Sanford Stadium as head coach. It was the beginning of 30 years of Auburn road dominance in the Deep South's oldest rivalry, spanning the careers of Barfield, Dye, Terry Bowden and Tuberville. On its last 15 trips to Sanford Stadium, Auburn has won 12 times and lost just three. Barfield was 2-0 in Athens. Dye was 4-2. Bowden was 3-0. Tuberville is 3-1.

Georgia has somewhat turned the tables at Jordan-Hare Stadium, going 8-5-2 in the same period of time. But good days against Auburn at home have been rare. The Bulldogs won only in 1981, 1991 and 2003.

Saturday afternoon, another Auburn team goes to Sanford Stadium. The bookies say this one is a toss-up. Auburn (7-3, 4-2) has won five of its last six. Georgia (7-2, 4-2) has won six of its last seven.

Auburn has an inherent emotional advantage because it recruits so many players from Georgia. Twenty-four current Tigers are from Georgia, and for them, there is no bigger game. Offensive tackle Chester Adams of Luverne is the only Alabamian on Georgia's roster.

Georgia went to Jordan-Hare Stadium as an underdog last season. An Auburn win would have meant a BCS bowl bid. Georgia won with shocking ease, 37-15.

This season, Georgia is still in the heat of the race for the East Division championship. Auburn has only the faintest hope of winning the West, but once again, the Tigers could end up in a BCS bowl if they beat Georgia and Alabama.

Under Tuberville, the Tigers have had remarkable success on the road all over the SEC. They have won 13 of their last 15, the only losses coming at LSU in overtime in 2005 and on the final offensive play of the game earlier this season.

So that brings us to the moment of truth. Who will win?

Georgia seems to have an advantage on offense. Auburn has the stingiest defense against scoring in the SEC. I'll go with the defense, the road field advantage, the surging emotion of Auburn's Georgia contingent and the steady leadership of senior quarterback Brandon Cox.

Auburn 23, Georgia 17.

Your fearless picker is coming off his best week of the year, a 7-0 run last Saturday. For the season, the record is 53-18.

Alabama (6-3, 4-2) at Mississippi State (5-4, 2-3): Mississippi State has a lot of things in its favor. The Bulldogs were relaxing with a day off last Saturday while Alabama was going through an emotional wringer in a 41-34 loss to LSU. They gained confidence in their last game, a 31-14 rout of Kentucky in Lexington.

It was just last season that Mississippi State stunned Alabama in Tuscaloosa, pushing Mike Shula closer to being fired. This Mississippi State team is far better than that one and will go into Saturday's game with confidence.

It's tempting to pick another upset, but I can't quite pull the trigger.

Alabama 24, Mississippi State 20.

Arkansas (6-3, 2-3) at Tennessee (6-3, 3-2): Arkansas has the highest scoring offense in the SEC and is on a roll after rushing for more than 500 yards in last Saturday's win over South Carolina. Tennessee's defense is, for lack of a better word, pitiful.

Arkansas 34, Tennessee 28.

South Carolina couldn't slow down Darren McFadden... can Tennessee?

Florida (6-3, 4-3) at South Carolina (6-4, 3-4): Since rising to No. 6 in the polls, South Carolina has lost three straight and has looked bad doing it. Florida, with a suspect defense and no legitimate tailback, has had good moments and bad.

Something tells me South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier is going to have something special cooked up for the Gators, who he coached to their greatest days.

In this week's Upset Special …

South Carolina 31, Florida 28.

Kentucky (6-3, 2-3) at Vanderbilt (5-4, 2-4): For most of the season, Kentucky football has been one big celebration. The Wildcats knocked off LSU in three overtimes. They took Florida to bitter end. Then came a dose of harsh reality, a whipping at the hands of Mississippi State.

Vanderbilt is one win away from becoming eligible for its first bowl since 1982 and is playing at home. This one could go either way, but it's just hard to think a team that beat LSU will lose to Vanderbilt.

Kentucky 38, Vanderbilt 28.

Louisiana Tech (4-5) at LSU (8-1, 5-1): LSU might have a bit of a hangover from last Saturday's emotional comeback win at Alabama. But it won't be bad enough hangover to do Louisiana Tech any good.

LSU 49, Louisiana Tech 7.

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