The short, 72-mile trek to Atlanta on Dec. 1 should be a pleasant drive for Georgia fans.
Mark Richt would have his second SEC East title in as many years and the fifth-ranked Bulldogs (8-1) would be on the verge of a BCS title shot with a little help and a win over the unbeaten Crimson Tide.
Just make sure it happens. Season’s end and dreams get crushed in the SEC when you get caught napping.
Saturday’s game at West rival Auburn (2-7) could be the perfect storm for UGA for all the wrong reasons. A 2-7 program on the verge of mediocrity. A possible lame duck coach playing out the string. A two-thirds to capacity Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Jarvis Jones should get a couple sacks and the Bulldogs will roll right?
Probably — Auburn’s given up an SEC-high 29 sacks — but maybe not.
Auburn’s a team that still has athletes, but unfortunately this season under Gene Chizik, most of those athletes haven’t made enough plays. Hurry-up offenses have given the Tigers problems and inconsistent play from an array of quarterbacks have damaged whatever hopes Auburn had of competing at a high level. Embarrassing losses to Arkansas and Texas A&M have soured a fanbase that’s been admittedly spoiled during Chizik’s tenure.
There is a crack in the Bulldogs’ armor however and if the Tigers hit it right, the SEC Championship glass could shatter along with the administration’s patience with Richt.
By most accounts, Georgia’s star-studded defense — outside of Jones, a Heisman candidate — has underperformed this season and noticeably plays down to its competition. That’s what Auburn will try and exploit. Talented backs Tre Mason and Onterrio McCalebb have often times been lost in games because the Tigers are so far behind. Both speedsters are averaging more than 5.5 yards per carry and move the sticks with ease when the line is dominant. That’s the problem. As a whole up front, the Tigers have struggled this season. Senior wideout Emory Blake has been the only reliable option in the passing game, pulling down 39 catches for 609 yards and three scores.
Georgia’s talent on offense is well-documented. Aaron Murray seems to be playing with confidence and two freshman running backs are as good as they come. But what about UGA’s defense? Can it summon the freakishly athletic effort it gave against Florida every week? If so, the Bulldogs are as good as any team in the country. Unfortunately in the SEC, each Saturday is a test, something you must pass every week to be considered among the nation’s elite.
This week’s road game could be similar to this year’s victory at Kentucky during which Georgia play uninspired on defense. Florida, too, has interest in Saturday’s rivalry. Tons of Gators will be watching from the Plains because an Auburn win locks up the East for Florida.
I’m sure coach Will Muschamp will yell a couple “War Eagles” to whoever is listening but even that might not be enough.
Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-US PRESSWIRE