AUBURN, Ala. — “The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry” is traditionally one of the best games on the college football calendar. It was a classic for Auburn, but a disaster for Georgia as the home team battered the No. 1 Bulldogs 40-17.
Here’s how it happened and what it means.
Auburn’s defense shut down powerful Georgia running game
After the first drive of the game, where Georgia drove right dwon the field for a touchdown, the Tigers stymied the Bulldogs, owning the line of scrimmage. Jeff Holland, Dontavius Russell and the rest of the Auburn front wall manhandled a Georgia offensive line and running game that had imposed its will on every previous opponent. The Bulldogs finished with 46 yards rushing – 233 yards below their season average. Auburn forced Georgia into consistent third-and-longs, making quarterback Nick Fromm uncomfortable from start to finish. Nick Chubb, who passed Bo Jackson for fourth on the SEC’s career rushing yards list, had only 27 yards on 11 attempts.
Gus Malzahn was more aggressive
Auburn’s offensive game plan featured more throws, especially on the early downs, where the Tigers were much less predictable than usual. Malzahn dug deep into his bag of tricks to put up points on what had been one of the top-ranked defenses in the nation. Georgia was second in the nation – behind Alabama – giving up just 11.7 points per game. On the same drive in the first half, the Tigers’ offense had a Ryan Davis pass intended for Jarrett Stidham and a flea-flicker a few plays later. Though some of the trick plays seemed forced, Auburn’s approach to moving the ball against Georgia was based on attacking and couldn’t have played out more effectively.
Kerryon Johnson builds on his growing legacy
Johnson has carried the Auburn offense at times this season. Last week comes to mind. Saturday was no different. His combination of patience, vision and power has made him a contender for the SEC’s offensive player of the year. Johnson carried 32 times for 167 yards, surpassing 1,000 yards for the season. That marks the ninth season in a row that an Auburn back has gone over 1,000. It’s important to remember that Georgia came into the game with the No. 5 rushing defense in the nation, allowing 89 yards per game on the ground.
© 2016, gridironnow.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.