Round Two

Saturday Spotlight- SEC Championship

(6) Georgia Bulldogs at (2) Auburn Tigers

Georgia: I’ve really enjoyed watching them this year and Kirby Smart has this program heading in the right direction for the next few seasons to come following this one. They’re an old-school football team and they want to establish the ground game, they want their quarterback to manage the game and they also have a punishing, bruising and physical defense that can beat you up in the trenches, a linebacking core with a lot of depth and a secondary that doesn’t really give up many big plays down the football field. The Georgia Bulldogs have the best tandem of running backs in the country in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel and they remind me of the smash and dash duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart of the Carolina Panthers or better known as “Double Trouble”. When both these guys are getting their carries and running the ball effectively, there’s no beating them, plain and simple. I was high on Nick Chubb a few seasons back and he could never stay healthy, but this year, it’s been a much different story. He’s been on the field every game and has made a huge difference. Sony is just as productive, he’s the speedster and he’s such a patient runner as he allows the hole to open before he takes off into space. When I look at the Georgia defense, this was the first order of business that Kirby Smart wanted to take care of when he was hired as their head coach. The defense as a whole has been fantastic, but this isn’t a group that regularly makes big things happen behind the line. There’s a decent pass rush, but not a great one. This is exactly what the Bulldogs wanted I’m sure and now, they have the chance at revenge and a shot to make the playoffs. They’ll need to take care of Auburn first.

Auburn: Remember when I was on Twitter and I tweeted out that this month of November was going to be the most important of Gus Malzahn’s coaching tenure with the Auburn football program? It made sense to say that then because you had battles against the top two teams in your conference and they are also two of the best teams in college football in the Georgia Bulldogs and the Alabama Crimson Tide. They took care of then-ranked number one Georgia and absolutely wore them down and the key to that game was finding ways to utilize Kerryon Johnson to get him the ball and he ends up having one of his best games of the season. That’s one big win. With Georgia losing, Alabama became the number one ranked team in the country and it came down to the Iron Bowl to determine who would get to the SEC title game. Another game against a number one ranked team, another victory so I think it’s safe to say that Malzahn’s job is okay, for now. They simply dominated the Crimson Tide and shut down their running game and put enormous amounts of pressure on Jalen Hurts. For as good as their offense has been (and it has), their defense is what has won them the SEC West and has them in the conversation for the playoffs and national championship contention. It hasn’t allowed more than one touchdown run since the loss to Clemson in Week Two, and Alabama was the first team to average more than five yards per carry and hit the 200-yard mark last week.

Georgia Group To Watch: The Pass Rush– This has been one of the weaknesses of this stout Georgia defense. The way Jared Stidham is playing right now, you can’t allow him to have any time in that pocket to throw the football. Jonathan Ledbetter and Justin Young need to wake up and get this pass rush going on Saturday afternoon.

Auburn Player To Watch: Derrick Brown– He was their top recruit for the Tigers last year and a season later, he’s a pretty important piece to their defensive front which has given this entire team a spark. The first thing I noticed about him was the burst he made up the middle of the offensive line to stop the run and he’ll have to really be an intricate piece in shutting down Chubb and Michel.

Final Analysis: The title of this piece was perfect, round two and I expect this to be a physical football game from the first 15 minutes to the final 15 minutes. For Georgia, utilizing your play action will be key and that will allow Jake Fromm to take shots down the field throughout the game. Use your receivers! Will Kerryon Johnson play? That’s the million dollar question and he’s been a big part of their success, but for Auburn to win this football game, Jared Stidham needs to play big-time. What type of adjustments did both teams make from the previous battle a few weeks ago? That’s what I’ll be paying attention to the most.

Prediction: Georgia 29 Auburn 24