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Auburn Preview

In advance of the 126th meeting between Georgia and Auburn in the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry, bear with me once again as I get on my soapbox. Unfortunately, we must relive another unpleasant memory. Do you sense a trend here? Some refer to the game between UGA and Auburn that took place on November 16th, 2013 as The Prayer at Jordan-Hare. That day, I decided to watch the game at a magical establishment known as The Ivy. Hard to describe the vibe there, but IYKYK. I was accompanied by our dear friends Kritesh and Rishi, and we had made it to the home stretch of another disappointing season. My brain works in mysterious ways, and while reminiscing about that game this week, I saw the opportunity to make another finance analogy. Is it hyperbolic to refer to this game as a Black Swan Event? Probably. But hear me out.

The teams combined for 1,098 yards of offense and 81 points in the game, and Aaron Murray had over 400 yards passing. Sounds like a good old fashioned shootout, doesn't it? Truth be told, it didn't feel that way, until the end. The War Eagles were in control for most of the game, and had over 300 yards rushing on the day. The current version of the Junkyard Dawgs' defense WOULD NEVER, but I digress. A Cody Parkey field goal with 12:39 remaining in the 4th quarter put Auburn comfortably ahead by a score of 37-17. Out of nowhere the Dawgs found a spark, and things got WILD. The Dawgs ripped off 3 consecutive TD drives, the last of which ended with a 5-yard rushing TD by Aaron Murray on 4th & goal with 1:49 remaining.

Pandemonium ensued at The Ivy. Drinks were thrown in all directions. The Lebron style napkin toss was still en vogue at the time.....and people were taking full advantage of the leniency granted by the bartenders, who were well aware that THIS NEVER HAPPENS TO THE DAWGS! You know when people say "act like you've been there before"? Guess what, I HAVEN'T BEEN THERE BEFORE. I did not care if this was just another regular season game, I was on Cloud 9 and ready to pop bottles.

Unfortunately, our celebration was cut short by something even more improbable than the Dawgs overcoming a 20 point deficit in the 4th quarter. You can always assume there will be insult added to injury for the Dawgs, and sure enough, former UGA defensive back Nick Marshall did the honors this time. Marshall left the UGA program in 2011, and after spending a year at the JUCO level, had transferred to Auburn and won the starting QB job in 2013. On 4th & 18, this happened. Black Swan Events have severe consequences, and this game created severe trust issues for at least one member of Bulldog Nation. I made the mistake of watching two more UGA games at the Ivy in later years, which I will discuss at some point. For now, suffice to say I solemnly swear that I will never watch another Dawgs game there again.

*On a more positive note, since this game, the Dawgs have won 7 of the last 8 against Auburn. The lone loss was the 40-17 loss at Jordan-Hare in 2017. As you may remember, the Dawgs got their revenge 3 weeks later in the SEC Championship Game.

High level hitters

  • After week 5, Bill Connelly's SP+ has Auburn ranked 18th overall (44th offensive and 15th defensive).

  • Auburn returns to Jordan-Hare Stadium on an emotional high after a 24-19 victory against LSU (which is now ranked 46th in SP+), the first win for Auburn in Death Valley since 1999.

  • After being benched during the Week 3 win over Georgia State, QB Bo Nix was not fazed. Auburn trailed 13-0 midway through the 2nd quarter last week against LSU, after which Nix showed off his unique ability to improvise and extend plays, leading the Tigers to a comeback in Baton Rouge.

  • Nix has received a good bit of criticism during his 3 years in Auburn, as his special moments are often overshadowed by turnovers and inconsistency. So far in the 2021 season, Nix appears more patient and has not yet thrown an interception.

  • I try not to read too much into box scores, but below are the summaries for Auburn's loss at Penn State and win at LSU. Nix averaged less than 6 YPA in both games, which leads me to believe the passing attack has not been explosive against better competition. A 36-yard reception by Kobe Hudson against Penn State was the longest passing play for Auburn in these two games.

  • Auburn has a couple of excellent running backs to lean on (in addition to Bo Nix being a real threat in the running game). It's possible that offensive coordinator Mike Bobo has opted to play to the team's strengths and keep the ball on the ground, rather than attempting down field bombs. But I am skeptical that this will work against Georgia.

  • Auburn's other victories this season have come against Akron (126th in SP+), FCS Alabama State, and the aforementioned Georgia State Panthers (94th in SP+). A different caliber of opponent is coming to town this Saturday.

Other notes

  • Auburn running back Tank Bigbsy is a really damn good player. Bigsby was rated as the 40th overall player in the 2020 recruiting class according to the 247 Sports Composite. He was recruited heavily by the Dawgs, but ultimately chose Auburn (possibly related to UGA's recruitment of Zach Evans). Freshman RB Jarquez Hunter is also off to a hot start in 2021, and provides another solid option for the Tigers.

  • In last year's 27-6 win, UGA's front 7 overwhelmed the Auburn offensive line, and held the Tigers to 39 yards rushing. This will be one of the matchups I am watching closely on Saturday.

  • Auburn's defense is rated as a top 15 unit by SP+ through 5 games. Grayson high school alum (and former 247 Sports Composite 5-star) Owen Pappoe is one part of Auburn's talented LB corps, though he has been dealing with some injuries and will be a game time decision. Zakoby McClain is another fantastic linebacker who is known for his physicality.

  • Smoke Monday and Roger McCreary are among the play makers in Auburn's defensive backfield, and are capable of capitalizing on any mistakes made by Stetson Bennett.

  • The defensive line may not have as many of the big names that we've become accustomed to seeing at Auburn, but the unit is deep and Derick Hall, TD Moultry (status is uncertain for the game) and Colby Wooden are just a few of the impact players along the front.

  • This will be Stetson Bennett's first road start against a full capacity SEC crowd. He led the Dawgs to a victory over Auburn last year in Athens, and I love what he has done for our team.

  • Speaking from personal experience, I can attest that Jordan-Hare gets rowdy and is one of the loudest stadiums I have been in. I am guessing the Dawgs will try to take some pressure off Stetson early on. Let's see if UGA can replicate the success they had running the football in last week's 37-0 win against Arkansas.

Tangent of the week

Traveling to away SEC games is a vibe. It's a lot more fun when you win, but I highly recommend it either way. You will encounter the salt of the earth on Saturdays in the south, and you can't convince me otherwise. if you're lucky enough to travel with a group of your friends, the bonding experience is unparalleled. I often joke about the whole "IT JUST MEANS MORE" saying, but it wasn't by accident that the phrase came to be. There is something to it.

I was able to attend the last 2 UGA-Auburn games at Jordan-Hare, and the 2017 SECG. Below are a few of the pictures. In the order they appear, shout out to Bama Mitch, Jackie, AO, Spink, Scruggs, Kyle, Mikey, Tyler, Chandler, James, Berty, Kritesh, Rishi, Brett, and Rydel. Go dawgs, love y'all.

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Taylor Brown
Taylor Brown
Oct 07, 2021

Excellent post. Obligatory shout out to The Ivy (I met my husband there, which is a huge character flaw). I was at the Cam Newton game, the Prayer, and the 2017 disaster. I will not be going on Saturday. Go Dawgs. Beat Auburn.

Oct 07, 2021
Replying to

Thanks! Love that y’all met there! It’s a special place. I’ve had mixed results at Jordan-Hare, so I won’t be going either. Go Dawgs!

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