No. 5 ranked Georgia (8-1, 6-1) and Auburn (6-3, 3-3) square off for the 123rd matchup in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry this Saturday in Athens at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN.
Georgia has clinched the SEC East, and at this point, the Dawgs are fighting for a shot at a return to the College Football Playoff. For Auburn, the Tigers’ up and down season no longer holds SEC Championship or playoff aspirations. However, head coach Gus Malzahn and the Tigers would love nothing more than to knock Georgia out of the national championship picture.
Auburn started the 2018 season with high expectations and a No. 9 preseason ranking. After a great season last year that saw the Tigers beat two No.1 teams, both Georgia and Alabama in the regular season, the SEC West champs fell short in the conference championship game to Georgia and again in Atlanta to UCF in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
Auburn returned a good deal of talent in 2018 and began the season well by beating No. 6 Washington in the Kick Off Classic. The Tigers couldn’t build upon the Washington victory and two weeks later lost a home game to then No. 12 LSU, 22-21. The pollsters had a lot of faith in the Tigers and they remained in the Top 10. Reality soon sank in as the Tigers fell to No. 21 after losing to unranked Mississippi State and then the following week on the Plains, gave Tennessee its first conference win in over two years, and falling out of the Top 25.
The rollercoaster season continued as the Tigers beat the 5-3 Ole Miss Rebels in Oxford and came back to upset No. 20 Texas A&M in College Station. Auburn remains outside the Top 25 as they prepare for this weekends’ game with the Bulldogs.
Georgia has been more of a model of consistency in the polls this season. After winning the SEC Championship and narrowly losing the national championship game to Alabama in overtime, the Bulldogs opened the 2018 season with a No. 3 national ranking. After winning each of their first three games by at least 24 points, the Dawgs advanced to No. 2 in the polls. The Dawgs maintained their ranking during the next three weeks after conference wins.
In week seven in Baton Rouge, current No.9 LSU left Georgia with its first blemish on the record and the Dawgs fell to No. 8. The Dawgs bounced right back with convincing, consecutive victories on the road over Top 10 teams and moved up to No. 5 in the AP Poll.
Georgia’s path to the College Football Playoff is in its own hands, while Auburn looks to salvage its season and deny its two biggest rivals, Alabama and Georgia, a trip to the college playoff.
First, Auburn travels to Athens to play yet another ranked team. The Tigers are a dangerous team and a formidable opponent but one never knows which Tiger team will show up. Vegas has opened the betting line with Georgia as a 13.5 point favorite. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series against Auburn 58-56-8 and have won 12 out of the last 17 meetings. Auburn will be seeking revenge for the SEC Championship Game loss and Georgia will be looking to enhance its playoff resume, so expect Sanford Stadium to be rocking Saturday night.