The Auburn Tigers shocked the world, well, they shocked people in the world who didn’t believe in Auburn football. Auburn slayed the dragon, as they knocked off Alabama in controlling fashion. The Tigers were in the driver seat throughout the matchup and earned themselves a 26-14 win in the Iron Bowl. It wasn’t just a win over Alabama in a rivalry game, the win paved the path to the SEC Championship and college football playoff. Auburn have been in playoff mode the last two weeks now.
Win and stay alive for the final-4. Lose and wait for next year to have a shot at the playoff. First step accomplished, as Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide went back to Tuscaloosa empty handed. Alabama can still make the playoff with a little bit of corruption and shadiness from the playoff committee. In my eyes, a team whose best wins came against LSU and Mississippi State do not belong in the playoff. I still wouldn’t be surprised if they get the call as the 4th seed.
Whoever wins the SEC Championship on Saturday will be in, we do know that much. Despite having two losses in their portfolio, Auburn will have enough quality wins to get the vote. Georgia enter with a record of 11-1, their only loss coming against the team they have across from them in the SEC Championship. The Bulldogs beat Auburn in convincing fashion, a 40-17 drubbing on November 11th. Auburn employed a beautiful game plan to counter a terrific Georgia defense. They used plenty of misdirection plays with Kerryon Johnson on the ground, and then quarterback Jarrett Stidham took care of the rest with his arm.
Johnson rushed for 167 yards, while Stidham dished out 3 touchdowns through the air. Stidham has been playing like one of the best quarterbacks in the country. He has it tough playing in the SEC, but if he were in the Big 12 like Baker Mayfield, he’d be compiling some monster numbers. Even though he has to deal with some of the best defenses in college football, Stidham is still throwing the ball effectively. He has thrown 16 touchdowns and 4 interceptions with a 68.4% completion percentage. That will get the attention of some NFL scouts. Another strong performance against the same elite defense he just diced up, would give another boost to his draft stock. Head below for our free SEC Championship pick between the Georgia Bulldogs and Auburn Tigers.
Georgia Bulldogs vs. Auburn Tigers Betting Odds:
vs. Auburn -3(+100)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Georgia vs. Auburn Pick:
First and foremost, Georgia must find a way to slow down Kerryon Johnson. He is the catalyst of their offense, and makes it a whole lot easier on everyone else, including Jarrett Stidham. Johnson set up the pass for Stidham last meeting and against Alabama. This is if he plays in this one. He suffered a shoulder injury last week, which got worse as the game progressed against the Crimson Tide. It looked like he may have blew out his knee late, as he went down without any contact. However, the shoulder just gave way and he couldn’t move it any longer. In went Johnson’s backup, Kam Martin, who injured his ankle just a couple of plays later.
Martin went back in after he taped his ankle, but wasn’t at 100%. He should play, but Kerryon is going to be a game-time decision. It’d be a significant blow for Auburn if he is isn’t healthy enough to play. Johnson has run for 1,276 yards with 19 touchdowns Martin has notched 409 yards and 3 touchdowns. Martin is a change of pace back, he only weighs 182 pounds, while Johnson is a much more physical and aggressive runner. Relying on Martin to carry the load would be difficult for Auburn. Georgia are allowing only 112.5 yards per game on the ground. Against the pass, they’re even stingier, giving up just 159.4 passing yards per game.
No Kerryon would put a whole lot more pressure on Stidham. He would have to play perfect against a ferocious pass defense. Yes, the Tigers have already put up 40 points on Georgia before, but doing it twice may be the tricky part. Georgia have seen the looks they’re going to get, they shouldn’t be caught off-guard this time around in the SEC Championship. Georgia also has the benefit of playing a weaker opponent last week, Georgia Tech, while Auburn went to battle with Alabama. Georgia will counter with a healthy dose of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. That 1-2 punch for the Bulldogs trumps a banged up Kerryon Johnson and Kam Martin.
Freshman Jake Fromm has been terrific for Georgia at quarterback. Like Stidham, Fromm relies on a great running game to find plays downfield. Chubb has rushed for 1,098 yards, while Michel is at 903 yards heading into Saturday. He’s thrown 19 touchdowns and 5 interceptions which is right there with Stidham. Auburn are 13th against the pass, allowing just 177.3 yards per game. Fromm was okay in the first meeting, but Auburn held him to just 184 yards passing and no touchdowns. Overall as a team, they are allowing only 16.4 points per game, a shade behind Georgia who are giving up 13.8 points per game.
The Bulldogs learned their lesson a few weeks ago, and I can see their defense playing a much better game, especially against an injured Kerryon Johnson who may not even play. Martin will have a hard time carrying the load against a physical Georgia defense. This will be a heck of a lot closer than 40-17. The defenses are going to rise to the occasion in the SEC Championship and keep it tight throughout. I would lean Georgia, but it’s going to be a close one that could go either way. Turnovers will be the difference, which can be one of the most difficult things to handicap. I like the UNDER more in Atlanta.
PICK: UNDER 48 (-115)