Auburn faced off against possibly the best team in the country and held their own for a little while before succumbing to the strength of the Georgia Bulldogs’ overall talent and the weight of their own mistakes.
Georgia beat the Tigers 34-10 today at Jordan-Hare Stadium with a very clean performance that didn’t include drops, missed tackles, penalties, or turnovers. Auburn, on the other hand, had plenty of mistakes and never gave themselves a chance to stay in the game. The Tigers did show a better effort against the vaunted Bulldog defense than anyone else this season, but in the end didn’t put together nearly enough in terms of finishing drives to make it count.
Auburn began the game with an absolutely beautiful script from Mike Bobo. The opening drive lasted 17 plays and took 6:41 off the clock, as the Tigers drove 68 yards and converted a pair of fourth downs. When they hit a first and goal situation, Bo Nix just missed John Samuel Shenker in the end zone for a touchdown, and Auburn had to settle for a 24-yard field goal from Anders Carlson. After the opening drive, Auburn led 3-0, scoring the first points against Georgia in more than two full games.
The Auburn defense answered and held up its end of the bargain by forcing a three and out, as Zion Puckett tackled Ladd McConkey short of the line to gain on third down. However, on Auburn’s ensuing drive, a pass for Shaun Shivers on third down skipped off the hands of the Tiger tailback and into the hands of Nakobe Dean. Stetson Bennett’s third down pass went wide of the mark in the end zone and Georgia settled for a field goal to tie the game at 3-3.
Auburn couldn’t manage any first downs on its third drive of the game, and punted back to Georgia, with a big controversy about where returner Kearis Jackson actually went down. In the end, an illegal formation on Auburn negated the play and the Tigers had to punt again. Stetson Bennett went to work through the air and hit Ladd McConkey and Brock Bowers on back to back plays for big gains, and then a pass interference gave the Bulldogs a first down at the Auburn 11 as the first quarter ended.
On the first play of the second quarter, Stetson Bennett scrambled inside the Auburn 5, but Smoke Monday crashed into him and was called for targeting. That penalty gave the Bulldogs a first and goal and they scored on a 1-yard Zamir White touchdown on the next play to take a 10-3 lead.
Auburn gained one first down on the next drive but had to punt back to Georgia, and the Bulldogs went back to work through the air again. Bennett hit two huge pass plays on the drive — a 25-yarder to Darnell Washington and a 46-yarder to McConkey — to bring up another first and goal. Bennett hit Adonai Mitchell for a 2-yard touchdown to put Georgia up 17-3 with 9:10 to play in the half.
After failing offensively for the entire first half post-drive number one, Auburn started its last drive of the quarter in a similar spot. Facing a third and 10, Bo Nix hit John Samuel Shenker for a 20-yard gain, and then connected with Kobe Hudson twice in a row before finding Demetris Robertson to set up first and goal. Auburn set up for a field goal and drew Georgia offsides, and a 4th and goal from the 3-yard line fell incomplete despite some grabbing from the Bulldog defensive back on Ze’Vian Capers. Auburn went into halftime down 17-3.
FIRST HALF STATS
Georgi’a strategy was clear to start the second half. They wanted to establish the run after going for only 36 yards on 18 attempts in the first half. Their opening drive included 7 rushing plays, but an incompletion from Bennett on third and short led to a field goal try for Jack Podlesny, which he doinked off the left upright.
Auburn drove into Georgia territory again, but failed on fourth down after another drop, and Georgia put what was likely the nail in the coffin with a 60-yard touchdown pass from Bennett to McConkey on the first play after the turnover.
Bo Nix didn’t wilt, though. He hit Caylin Newton for 31 yards on a loft pass down the Auburn sideline, and followed it up with a laser to Demetris Robertson for 26 more yards to get the Tigers into the red zone. After a Nix scramble to set up 3rd and 1, Tank Bigsby took a handoff and ran through several tackles, meandering his way around left end for Auburn’s first touchdown of the game. After the extra point, the Tigers trailed 24-10 with 4:01 left in the third quarter.
Georgia kept with its decided second-half strategy after the Auburn score, and ran the ball down the field, with Stetson Bennett converting a clutch 3rd and 2 on a 30-yard quarterback keeper to set up a goal to go situation as the third quarter ended.
To start the fourth quarter, Georgia got stuffed by the Auburn defense at the goal line, and settled for a short field goal to make it 27-10. Auburn got the ball back, and appeared ready to attempt another fourth down conversion, but a huge sack of Bo Nix changed those plans and the Tigers had to punt on 4th and 20. When the Bulldogs took the ball, they bludgeoned down the field, and got the coffin nail touchdown from Zamir White as he ran through the tackle of Zakoby McClain to give Georgia a 34-10 lead with 7:11 left.
After that, Auburn failed once more on offense after a huge sack of Nix, and Georgia bled the clock to win comfortably.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Bo Nix (QB) - 21-38, 217 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT - Honestly, Bo played well today. His big negatives were a couple of sacks late that ended drives and some balls thrown with a little too much heat, but his numbers are astronomical if the Tiger receivers can catch the ball. He was able to keep the offense moving down the field on multiple occasions, but the offense couldn’t put the ball in the end zone save for one time. He was good, just didn’t have much help.
Auburn takes on Arkansas on the road next Saturday. The Hogs lost on the final play to Ole Miss 52-51, as