No. 9 Auburn Tigers (7-2 SU, 6-3 ATS) vs. Georgia Bulldogs (5-4 SU, 4-5 ATS)
College Football Week 11
Date/Time: Saturday November 12th, 2016. 3:30PM (EST)
Where: Sanford Stadium Athens, G.A.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: AUB -10/UGA +10
Over/Under Total: 48.5
Last week, the Auburn Tigers survived a scare at home with a 23-16 victory over Vanderbilt to move to 7-2 SU on the season. If you have not realized, the Tigers have now won 6 straight games since starting the season 1-2 and have climbed back inside the Top 10 in the polls. They are among the hottest team in the SEC not named Alabama and the Iron Bowl is looking like it could be another epic meeting between both teams. However, Auburn will have to survive another test before they can set focus on Alabama as they go on the road this Saturday to battle the Georgia Bulldogs between the hedges in Athens for the Deep Souths Oldest Rivalry.
For the home team, things have not went the way Georgia fans have hoped in Kirby Smarts debut season in Athens. The Bulldogs were expected to battle with the likes of Florida and Tennessee for the SEC East crown. Instead, the Bulldogs have lost 4 of their last 6 games and are on the verge of having their first losing season in conference play since 2010. Luckily the Bulldogs did snap a two game losing streak last weekend by rallying from behind to beat Kentucky 27-24 with the help of a late Rodrigo Blankenship 25 yard field goal. The Bulldogs actually outplayed Kentucky fairly significantly outgaining the Wildcats 460-308 in terms of total offense but coughed up 3 fumbles that nearly cost them the victory. On Saturday, Georgia tries to put their troubles to the side and turn their season around with an upset victory over a top 10 ranked team.
With all the trouble that has went on in Athens in recent weeks, you have to feel this is the game that Georgia needs to end some of the programs concerns. Therefore, I fully expect the Bulldogs to give their best effort on Saturday. The main effort that the Bulldogs will need to spur the upset bid this weekend will be for the defense to rise to the challenge. Kirby Smart is a defensive minded guy from his time as the defensive coordinator for so many years at Alabama. So far this year, the defense has done a pretty good job especially against the run ranking 20th in the FBS allowing just 118 yards per game. When Auburn comes to town on Saturday, they will bring the 3rd best rushing offense into Athens that has averaged 300 yards per game running the football.
Auburn sophomore running back Kamryn Pettway has emerged as one of the SECs best tailbacks with 1,106 yards on the season and 7 scores. Pettway has actually gained 770 yards and 6 touchdowns from scrimmage in just the last 4 games against SEC competition. The bad news for Auburn fans is that Pettways status for this weekend is uncertain after he apparently pulled a muscle late last week against Vanderbilt. Obviously if Auburn is unable to go with the SECs leading rusher in their backfield it will be a big setback. However, the offense still has plenty of rushing threats with Kerryon Johnson likely the guy that would get the bigger role.
If Georgia can find ways to stymie Auburns rushing offense, then they could have a chance to win this game outright. If they fail to do so, I do not think they have enough offensive weapons to win a high scoring game against the Tigers. The Bulldogs are averaging just 24 points over the last 4 games and have been held to 16 points or less in 3 of their 4 losses this season. Therefore, they need a strong collective effort from the offense to get back on track this weekend. Running back Nick Chubb has been held to just 145 yards over the last 3 games which is appalling for one of the SECs best backs. Meanwhile quarterback freshman Jacob Eason is completing just 53% passing on the season and has yet to show that he can take over when defenses sell out on stopping the run. Those offensive issues have been the forefront of Georgias struggles this year and they will go against an underrated Auburn group on Saturday.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This is a big rivalry game where prior week trends can be thrown out the window. I expect a really big defensive effort in this game which will give Georgia chances to win the football game. Also, the Bulldogs have won 8 of the last 10 games against Auburn as they look to keep that trend going. Take Georgia +10
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