3 takeaways from Georgia's thrilling win at Auburn
Well, that was fun.
Down to the wire, it went. Never mind the fact that Georgia came in as the 2-time defending champs and Auburn was riding 2 consecutive losing seasons. Never mind the fact that Auburn hadn’t hit 20 points against the Dawgs in 6 years.
None of that mattered. Auburn ran the ball at Georgia and gave us a thriller.
Of course, the Dawgs reminded us why they entered Saturday with a 21-game winning streak having not lost a game in 665 days. Georgia pulled out a gutsy 27-20 victory at Jordan-Hare.
Here are 3 takeaways from that:
1. Brock Bowers is not fair
Auburn did a masterful job containing the All-American tight end in the first half. He was held to 2 catches for 9 yards.
In the second half? That was a different story.
Not only did Bowers shake off a pair of Auburn defenders en route to the game-winning touchdown, his 148 yards in the second half were a career-high in a half. The guy was un-guardable. Carson Beck recognized that. At one point, Bowers made consecutive 1-handed catches, but the second one was waved off because UGA didn’t have enough players on the line of scrimmage.
He’s now tied for No. 2 all-time in Georgia history for touchdown receptions. For me, he’s now No. 1 all-time in college football history among tight ends.
2. Credit Auburn, yes, but Georgia’s run defense is a major problem
I thought Hugh Freeze came out with an excellent game plan. Against a Georgia defense that struggled to stop the run against UT Martin, it made all the sense in the world for the Tigers to come out with a run-heavy approach. UGA ranked No. 49 in the country in yards/carry allowed.
Auburn picked up 219 rushing yards, which marked the first time the Dawgs surrendered 200 rushing yards in a game since the 2018 LSU loss. That day, Georgia didn’t come anywhere close to escaping Baton Rouge with a win. They were fortunate to get out of Jordan-Hare with a victory, but make no mistake. This a problem.
Yes, as Seth Emerson of The Athletic pointed out, Jumon Dumas-Johnson was on the sideline during that 61-yard Payton Thorne run, but still. It felt like far too much of the game, UGA couldn’t contain Auburn off the edge and it was Javon Bullard chasing down a ballcarrier.
Georgia isn’t winning a title with a run defense that struggles like that. Auburn, on the other hand, might be able to build an actual identity around a ground game that blocks like that.
3. Anyone assuming Kentucky will be a cakewalk for UGA hasn’t been paying attention
In 2023, Georgia played 2 Power 5 opponents and trailed in the first half by double digits. In 2021-22, Georgia played 30 games and it only trailed by double digits in the first half twice.
Yeah, this is a very different group. Offensive execution hasn’t been there early, and the aforementioned run defense could prove costly.
Next week, UGA will play host to an unbeaten Kentucky team who just paved the way for Ray Davis to run for an FBS-best 280 yards on Saturday. If those issues aren’t ironed out, UGA is going to be playing with fire every week.
But for now, surviving Jordan-Hare was as big a victory as the Dawgs could’ve asked for.