GEORGIA BULLDOGS (11-1)
at AUBURN TIGERS (10-2)
Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Atlanta, GA
Kickoff: Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET
Line: Auburn -2.5, Total: 48
Georgia looks to avenge its lone loss, and earn a playoff spot in the process.
After a win over Texas A&M on November 4, it seemed fully possible that the Auburn Tigers would finish the year 1-2 in their last three games as they prepared for matchups with then-undefeated conference rivals Georgia and Alabama. But there was also a sense that the difficult slate gave the two-loss Tigers the opportunity to get back into the playoff race if they could win out and impress the playoff committee. Now, after having blown out Georgia and beaten Alabama last weekend, the Tigers need to beat the Bulldogs once again in Saturday's SEC Championship Game to secure a playoff berth. Meanwhile, the loss to Auburn remains the lone blemish on Georgia's schedule, and the Bulldogs, too, will find themselves in the playoff if they can win the first-ever conference title game held at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Over the last 10 seasons, teams averaging between 390 and 440 yards per game after seven games, that gained at least 7.25 yards per play (UGA), are 26-7 ATS against defenses allowing between 280 and 330 yards per game. Auburn is 7-1 Over against the total in conference games this season, but Georgia is 24-12 Under on Saturdays over the last three seasons. Star Auburn RB Kerryon Johnson is considered probably to play, but will likely be at less than 100% with a shoulder injury.
A 40-17 win over Georgia on November 11 predictably yielded some impressive offensive performances for the Tigers: QB Jarrett Stidham threw for 214 yards and three touchdowns, while Johnson toted the ball 32 times for 167 yards, plus caught a 55-yard touchdown. Johnson has rumbled his way into the Heisman race in the second season as the nation's premier workhorse. He's had 20+ carries in eight straight games, and 100+ rushing yards in seven of those eight. He wore down arguably the most talented defense in the Iron Bowl, getting 104 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries. Stidham had a nice afternoon, as well, completing 21 of 28 passes for 237 yards, plus running for a season-high 51 yards. He seldom turns the ball over (4 INTs), so if Georgia can bait him into an interception or two the Tigers offense could find itself out of rhythm. WR Ryan Davis is easily his favorite target, as his 69 catches are over 40 more than anyone else on the roster. He had his best game of the year with 11 catches for 139 yards against Bama. Against Georgia earlier in the season, he caught a 32-yard score from Stidham in the third quarter. Davis and WR Darius Slayton each have five touchdowns on the season.
In a fantastic freshman year spent as a starter, the loss to Auburn stands out as an obvious low point for Georgia QB Jake Fromm. He completed 13 of 28 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown, his only outing that yielded a completion percentage of less than 50%. He had a raw QBR of 15.8, representing only his second game with that stat under 64.0. He has led the Bulldogs to two blowout wins in the two games since, including a 38-7 win over Georgia Tech last weekend in which he completed 12 of 16 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns. It was his second-highest yardage total of the year. While the first-year QB isn't the focal point of the Georgia offense, it's his performance that will make our break the unit's success. RBs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel join Johnson in a running back showcase that figures to have plenty of NFL scouts in attendance. Chubb has 1,098 rushing yards and Michel has 903, and each has 13 rushing touchdowns. Neither got much going the first time around against the Tigers, with each rushing for under 30 yards. They've run with a vengeance in the two weeks since, though, combining for seven rushing TDs in that time. With Chubb and Michel as 1A and 1B, freshman D'Andre Swift is the change-of-pace back. He had 93 yards on 11 total carries against Kentucky (Nov. 18) and Georgia Tech. WR Javon Wims is Fromm's go-to receiver, and he was a rare bright spot against Auburn in November with three catches for 96 yards. He has had over 75 yards receiving in the two games since. WRs Terry Godwin and Mecole Hardman are secondary options.