WHAT: No. 5 Georgia (8-1, 6-1) at Auburn (2-7, 0-6)
WHERE: Jordan-Hare Stadium
WHEN: Saturday, 7 p.m.
TV: ESPN2 (Mark Jones, Brock Huard, Allison Williams)
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Georgia - QB Aaron Murray (6-1, 210, Jr.), RB Ken Malcome (6-0, 224, RSo.), RB Todd Gurley (6-1, 218, Fr.), RB Keith Marshall (5-11, 216, Fr.), LT Kenarious Gates (6-5, 318, Jr.), FLK Tavarres King (6-1, 200, Sr.), SE Marlon Brown (6-5, 216, Sr.), TE Arthur Lynch (6-5, 258, Jr.), OLB Jarvis Jones (6-3, 241, Jr.), N/DE John Jenkins (6-3, 358, Sr.), ILB Alec Ogletree (6-3, 232, Jr.),ILB Michael Gilliard (6-2, 230, Sr.), ILB Amarlo Herrera (6-2, 245, So.), SS Shawn Williams (6-1, 217, Sr.), CB Damian Swann (5-11, 189, So.), FS Bacarri Rambo (6-0, 210, Sr.), CB Sanders Commings (6-2, 218, Sr.), K Marshall Morgan (6-3, 201, Fr.). Auburn - QB Jonathan Wallace (6-2, 197, Fr.), RB Tre Mason (5-10,198, So.), WR Emory Blake (6-2, 193, Sr.), TE Brandon Fulse (6-4, 249, So.), DE Dee Ford (6-2, 246, Jr.), DT Gave Wright (6-3, 299, So.), DE Corey Lemonier (6-4, 246, Jr.), SLB Jonathan Evans (5-11, 231, Sr.), CB Joshua Holsey (5-11, 188, Fr.), FS Demetruce McNeal (6-2, 187, Jr.).
Not a lot needs to be said. With a win, Georgia captures the SEC East and advances to the Georgia Dome, most likely against top-ranked Alabama for the SEC Championship. Auburn, meanwhile, is just trying to salvage some respect and with it head coach Gene Chizik's job.
Defensive end Abry Jones (ankle) is out for Saturday's game, while fullback Merritt Hall is questionable after spraining his ankle on the first play last week against Florida. The Bulldogs will also be without wide receiver Marlon Brown for the first time this year after the senior tore his ACL against Ole Miss last week. Fellow senior Tavarres King will wear No. 15 in honor of Brown during Saturday night's game. Linebacker Chase Vasser remains questionable with a strained left shoulder.
Auburn offense vs. Georgia defense
Freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace will be under the microscope for the Tigers as he makes his second straight start, but first in an SEC game. Auburn can run the ball with tailbacks Tre Mason (127-706) and Onterio McCalebb (76-453). For Georgia, the Bulldogs have rebounded with two fine back-to-back efforts after some serious bouts with inconsistencies in the first seven games. In their last two victories over Florida and Ole Miss, the Bulldogs have only allowed an average of 9.5 points and 250 yards of offense per game.
• Georgia's front seven vs. Wallace: Georgia will look to make life miserable for the true freshman and will hope to force a turnover or two. But most important, it's going to be important for Georgia's defense to control the tempo and not give the Tigers any reason to start thinking upset.
• No doubt Auburn will look to make most of its offensive hay on the ground and with Mason and McCalebb, they have the backs to do it. It's going to be up to the Bulldog defensive line to slow the duo down.
• Auburn wide receiver Emory Blake is a wily veteran and also one of the top receivers in the SEC. When Wallace looks to throw, now doubt that Blake will be one of his main targets.
"There are 22 Georgia boys that play for Auburn. Auburn tends to recruit really hard in our state, and they get a lot of the really fine players out of the state of Georgia. I think that's one of the reasons why it's such a tremendous rivalry game. This is the 116th time that we're going to play Auburn, and they lead the series 54-53 with 8 ties. That's an awful lot of games to have that even of a series, and it's for good reasons because it's a very heated rivalry. We don't expect anything different. We know that we've been recruiting against Auburn for years. We know they've got great players. We know that they have outstanding coaches, and we have a lot of respect for them. We know that the rival game certainly brings the best out of both teams, so we're expecting quite a challenge and quite a battle." - Mark Richt.
Auburn defense vs. Georgia offense
Auburn's defensive line is arguably its most talented unit. Defensive ends Corey Lemonier and Dee Ford are two of the most athletic and explosive ends in the SEC. Both are a tad undersized at under 250 pounds, but they are very strong and do an excellent job of playing the pass with their speed and the rush with leverage and quickness. The inside guys, Jeffery Whitaker and Angelo Blackson, are also very talented. Both are solid run-stuffers with excellent size and the athleticism to pursue. Blackson is the more explosive of the two and has six tackles for a loss this season despite a high number of double teams, but Whitaker is also very tough to move in the run game. Behind those two are a couple of other defensive linemen who have shown promise. Gabe Wright and Kenneth Carter are the top reserves on the inside, and both have shown an ability to make plays this season. Wright has three tackles for a loss this season, and Carter is pitching in two tackles per game. Defensive end Nosa Eguae is another player to keep an eye on as he has started to come on of late.
• Georgia will look to get its running game going, and to do that, it means the Bulldogs' offensive line will need to continue its recent string of good work to keep Todd Gurley and company rolling along.
• Auburn is not necessarily playing with a ton of confidence last week, so it would behoove the Bulldogs to try - like they should every week - to get off to a quick offensive start. If Georgia can put the Tigers down by two or three quick scores, Auburn just may hang it up right there.
• Limit turnovers. Yes, we say this every week, but it bears repeating. Statistically, Georgia is a much stronger team than the Tigers but still don't need to be giving them any easy opportunities for scores.
"They've done a great job over the years of really staying very similar to what they do. And they've always been able to have a very good running game to complement whatever quarterback they've had. They've got a great tradition of very good quarterbacks. The running backs are young -- and it's a very complementary duo. They've got one really big guy who's fast as well, and then you have a changeup back that's not quite as big. You've got to pick and choose. If you want to play back and play coverage, you could have some run-fit issues." - Gene Chizik.
There have been enough weird things happen in the long-standing series with Auburn, which will be played for the 116th time Saturday evening, to ever say anything for 100 percent. That said, Auburn's issues this season have been well-documented, while the Bulldogs are arguably playing their best football of the season. Auburn has absolutely nothing to lose, and because of that, it would not be a shocker to see the Tigers keep it close - at least for a little bit. In the end, however, Georgia just simply has too much talent - on both sides of the ball. Prediction - Georgia 34, Auburn 14.
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