ATHENS, Ga. - Fifth-ranked Georgia has locked up the SEC East title and a berth in the conference championship game, but much work remains in order for it to keep alive its national title hopes - starting with Saturday's home contest against Auburn. The Bulldogs have rebounded from their lone setback of the season last month at LSU, trouncing Florida and Kentucky in emphatic fashion, and now face the Tigers for the first time since defeating them in last season’s SEC championship game.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Georgia -14
“There’s not anybody on our team that’s going to be worrying about anything but Auburn, because that’s the next task at hand,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart told reporters on Monday. “That’s what we have to be focused on.” The Tigers handed Georgia its only regular-season loss in 2017 and enters Saturday after posting back-to-back victories over Mississippi and Texas A&M - the latter coming after two touchdowns in the final 5 minutes, 14 seconds lifted them to a 28-24 triumph. The comeback came as the Tigers, who have struggled at times offensively, went up-tempo on their final two drives. “There’s no doubt we were in a rhythm the last two series,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn told reporters on Tuesday. “You’re always trying to find offensively a rhythm, so we’ll see where that carries us these last three games.”
ABOUT AUBURN (6-3, 3-3 SEC)
The Tigers, who rank 124th in FBS in time of possession and 96th in third-down offense, rushed for just 19 yards against Texas A&M. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham completed 18-of-29 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns last week, with both scoring passes going to SEC Freshman of the Week Seth Williams. The Tigers enter the week 13th in the nation in scoring defense (17.3 points) thanks in part to Nick Coe, who earned SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week honors after forcing a fumble and recording a sack.
ABOUT GEORGIA (8-1, 6-1)
The Bulldogs rolled up 444 yards of total offense last week against a Kentucky team that entered the game leading the nation in scoring defense. D’Andre Swift rushed for a career-best 157 yards and two touchdowns, earning a share of the conference's Offensive Player of the Week honors, while quarterback Jake Fromm ranks second in the SEC in completion percentage (67.7 percent). Georgia is 10th nationally as it has allowed just 16.4 points per game.
1. Auburn’s rushing output last week was its lowest since 2000 (18 yards against Mississippi State).
2. Georgia RB Elijah Holyfield also set a career high last week, rushing for 115 yards.
3. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series 58-56-8, but Auburn holds an 18-14 advantage in games played in Athens.
PREDICTION: Georgia 34, Auburn 17
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