Saturday’s rematch against Georgia was already expected to be a much tougher task for Auburn than the first time around.
It’s always hard to beat a team twice in one season, and not having your best player at 100 percent only adds to that difficulty.
Auburn star running back Kerryon Johnson was a monster in Week 11 — rushing for 167 yards while also adding 66 receiving — but with an injured shoulder, he wasn’t able to replicate that success. The junior only rushed for 44 yards on 13 carries (3.4 yards per carry).
It wasn’t just Johnson’s lack of health that contributed to the 28-7 loss, however.
Overall, Georgia won the game in about every conceivable way, but Auburn made some costly mistakes that doomed the Tigers as well.
Drops, untimely penalties and turnovers halted any sort of sustainable success the offense could’ve hoped for, and a lack of quality tackling on the defensive side also contributed.
The most surprising part of Auburn’s poor offensive performance was the two fumbles that came from the unit’s best two players — Johnson and quarterback Jarrett Stidham.
The fumble from Johnson was particularly costly, as the Tigers were moving the ball and had it near midfield. The turnover led to a Georgia field goal that made the score 13-7.
The defense didn’t help things much, either. After holding the Bulldogs to only 46 yards on the ground the first time, the Tigers gave up 238 on Saturday.
Georgia running back Nick Chubb went from averaging 2.5 yards per carrying (27 yards on 11 carries) in the regular-season meeting to 5.9 (77 yards on 13 carries) in the rematch.
A lot of Georgia’s success in the run game stemmed from Auburn not being as efficient as it had been in recent weeks with tackling, and it definitely showed.
There also has to be a lot of credit given to Georgia’s offensive line. The men up front for Georgia went from giving up 10 pressures (4 sacks, 6 hurries) in game one to only 3 (2 sacks, 1 hurry) in game two.
To see how much they dominated Auburn’s offensive line — both in the passing game and in the run game — just check out this clip:
Goodness. This is filthy. pic.twitter.com/OfK2NC0LCW
— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) December 3, 2017
The bottom line is this wasn’t the same Auburn team that we had grown accustomed to seeing over the last few weeks, but that could be because they were playing away from Jordan-Hare Stadium for the first time in a month.
Either way, this loss now turns the attention to Gus Malzahn and his future with the team. There have been rumors swirling that he could take the Arkansas job.