Auburn (3-2) travels to face #2 Georgia (5-0) in Sanford Stadium. The Tigers are coming off a 21-17 loss to LSU where they kept the score surprisingly close. QB Robby Ashford played above expectations by producing 337 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception.
On the other hand, Georgia struggled with an inferior opponent for the second straight week. They managed to defeat unranked Missouri 26-22 after entering the 4th quarter trailing 19-12, but their sloppy play caused them to fall to #2 in the AP Poll.
Will Auburn keep it tight and scare Georgia fans for the third week in a row? Their odds to do so are found below, as well as picks and predictions.
*All stats per PFF
Auburn vs. Georgia Odds
Despite their recent stumbles, the Bulldogs are heavily favored here. The spread stands at -29.5 Georgia, and Auburn’s moneyline is substantial at about +2000 odds. At 49 total points, the over under is on the lower side compared to other matchups this week.
Auburn vs. Georgia Prediction & Pick
Although I believe Georgia will bounce back and comfortably defeat Auburn, the spread of -29.5 is too large. Therefore, the best bet is taking Auburn to cover and avoiding their moneyline like a plague.
QB Stetson Bennett has thrown for 1,536 yards, 5 big time throws, and 3 turnover worthy plays this season – good but non-elite numbers. This phrase defines how I would rate Bennett’s overall play; he can get the job done, but he fails to qualify as a top ten quarterback in college football. Georgia possesses a stable of weapons that boost Bennett’s floor and ceiling though.
Brock Bowers is the best pass-catching tight end in the nation who acts as a safety blanket for Bennett. TE Darnell Washington (6’7”, 270 lbs) towers over defenders and can win jump balls. RB Kenny McIntosh thrives as a receiver in the flat who has already produced 237 yards on 22 receptions. Meanwhile, deep threat WR Ladd McConkey vertically stretches out the defense.
Georgia’s efficient offense has the capability to reach 49 points; however, they haven’t faced a defense as skilled as Auburn. The Tigers own a dangerous secondary led by lockdown cornerback DJ James, who has allowed merely 5 receptions and 51 yards on 21 targets while orchestrating 5 pass breakups. Opposite of him, CB Nehemiah Pritchett has held up well to the tune of 12 receptions on 22 targets for 106 yards with 3 pass break ups. Auburn’s linebackers are also solid in coverage, which is vital against a Georgia squad that utilizes two tight ends.
Although they lost Eku Leota (4 sacks) to injury, the Tigers can still effectively pass rush and disrupt Bennett’s timing. EDGE Derick Hall has obliterated offensive lines this season; he’s racked up 5 sacks, 16 hurries, and a 22.8 pass rush win percentage. Colby Wooden complements Hall by providing pressure from the inside. He’s contributed 2 sacks, 16 hurries and a 16.0 pass rush win percentage.
Overall, Auburn’s defense can hold Georgia to 35-38 points at a maximum. Therefore, the Tigers would only need 9 points to cover, which is extremely feasible. Georgia’s secondary is elite, but the run defense and pass rush could improve. That’s a problem against an Auburn team that can dominate on the ground.
QB Robby Ashford made strides as a passer against LSU, yet his mobility and speed label him a dangerous scrambler. RB Tank Bigsby owns breakaway potential and averages an astonishing 4.26 yards after contact per attempt. In addition, the offensive line thrives as a run-blocking unit. Auburn’s offense isn’t completely one-dimensional though, as WR Ja’Varrius Johnson and Shedrick Jackson are deep threats.
Overall, the spread is overestimating Georgia’s bounce back. Auburn’s defense is too stingy for Georgia to cover this mammoth spread. The Tigers may not even have to score a single point to cover, although I expect them to require 7-9 points.
Auburn vs. Georgia Key Matchups
TE Brock Bowers vs. Auburn Coverage
This is the key matchup for Auburn’s defense. Bowers is the main cog in Georgia’s offense, and Bennett heavily relies on him each game. To limit their offense, neutralizing Bowers is a must. The effectiveness of Auburn’s defense hinges on how well their linebackers and safeties can cover the 6’4” Bowers, as cornerbacks will likely struggle against him. If they fail, Georgia can put up 38 on the scoreboard; however, that number could drop to 24 should Bowers be ineffective.
Brock Bowers has been a DAWG so far this season:
🐶 342 Yards (1st)
🐶 82.6 REC Grade (3rd)
🐶 8 Missed Tackles Forced (1st)
🐶 198 YAC (1st) pic.twitter.com/dDZTyj4Vor
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 6, 2022
WR Ja’Varrius Johnson vs Georgia Secondary
Typically, receivers that line up in the slot are short to intermediate options meant to pick up 8-12 yards. However, Johnson breaks this trend. He owns 16 receptions, and 12 of those went for first downs due to his monstrous 19 yards per reception. With an average depth of target of 14.4 yards, Johnson is a notable intermediate and deep threat. His production helps balance Auburn’s offense and forces defenses to hesitate loading the box. If Georgia can shut down Johnson, their defense has a far greater chance of suffocating Auburn’s offense.
— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) October 2, 2022
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