5 bold predictions for Auburn vs. Georgia
So here we are: No. 9 Auburn at Georgia. It’s the only SEC West-SEC East matchup this week, and it features two teams with different goals.
For the Tigers, it’s a chance to run their winning streak to seven, which would be their longest such run since 2013, when they won nine in a row before losing to Florida State in the BCS National Championship Game. For the Bulldogs, it’s an opportunity to build on their win at Kentucky last week.
What should we expect? Settle in, let us put on the prognostication hat and make a few guesses about one of the biggest battles of the week.
1. A Georgia running back will have the most rushing yards: Kamryn Pettway, the SEC’s leading rusher, left last week’s game with an injury and is day-to-day. Kerryon Johnson, who hurt his ankle last month against Mississippi State, is still not 100 percent for Auburn.
Georgia’s Sony Michel rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown on just 19 carries last week. Teammate Nick Chubb chipped in with 21 carries for 85 yards.
Both are healthier than Auburn’s top two running backs. Georgia is playing at home, and its run defense has been better than Auburn’s.
2. Jacob Eason will outperform Sean White statistically: Eason has had an up-and-down freshman year, but he’s had his moments. In Georgia’s 17-16 loss to Vanderbilt, Eason completed 67.5 percent of his passes for 346 yards – both career-highs – and a touchdown.
Auburn’s passing defense, which is ranked 11th the SEC, has taken a hit over its last two games. It’s allowed Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly and Vanderbilt’s Kyle Shurmur to combine for 686 passing yards.
Sean White completed 10-of-13 passes for 106 yards and a TD last week. He hurt his throwing shoulder against the Rebels, and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee has recently said that White is not yet 100 percent healthy.
3. The game will not come down to the kickers: Auburn junior Daniel Carlson and Georgia freshman Rodrigo Blankenship both had their moments last week. Carlson made 3-of-4 field goal attempts, but the one he didn’t make was the most memorable.
Vanderbilt redshirt junior linebacker Zach Cunningham hurdled Auburn’s offensive line to block Carlson’s 36-yard attempt. Meanwhile, Blankenship was 4-for-4 – both career-highs – on his tries, including his game-ending kick against Kentucky.
In terms of accuracy, Carlson and Blankenship are the second- and third-best kickers in the SEC. But neither will line up for a decisive field goal with just seconds left.
That’s because one of the teams will be far enough ahead to avoid that scenario.
4. Auburn will yield its first rushing touchdown in seven games: The Tigers haven’t allowed a score on the ground since Trayveon Williams went 89 yards to paydirt in Auburn’s 29-16 home loss to Texas A&M on Sept. 17.
That streak will end on Saturday despite the fact that Deshaun Davis will be back on the field for Auburn. The sophomore middle linebacker was ejected last week for targeting.
Coincidentally, Georgia has not scored a rushing TD in two games this season – back-to-back losses to Vanderbilt and Florida. Auburn has surrendered four of those scores all season.
5. Auburn will win its first game in Athens since 2005: The Tigers have lost four straight between the hedges by a combined score of 155-58, but that will change come Saturday. Under first-year coordinator Kevin Steele, Auburn has improved on defense.
And even with its top two running backs being hurt, AU can potentially use Stanton Truitt as its primary ball-carrier and still be OK. Auburn is one of five FBS teams to average at least 290 rushing yards per game. Georgia will have a tough time shutting down that attack.
Meanwhile, Auburn is allowing just 16 points a game. The Bulldogs will score more than that, but the Tigers will come out on top. Auburn will win and cover with a 31-20 victory.