By the Numbers

Disappointment by the Numbers
Georgia at Auburn
SEC Game of the Week
November 11th at 12:30 ET Raycom

by Bob Epling
(article originally published in Game Day Weekly 11.9.08)

When Georgia and Auburn renew the South’s oldest rivalry this Saturday on the Plains, neither program is where it expected to be at the start of the season.

Most preseason publications and online sites tabbed Georgia as the nation’s top team and a serious national title contender. Auburn was also a solid Top Ten choice.

The season has not worked out so well for either and we can follow the disappointment by looking at the numbers.

1 and 9 … The preseason rankings of these two teams back in August.

Georgia, based on the Dogs strong finish in 2007, stomping of Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl, and returning talent at the offensive skill positions, garnered the top spot from most national publications before the season. The Dogs would drop from the top spot before even losing a game, then fall from the Top Ten after blowout losses to Alabama and Florida.

Auburn, with promises of a high-scoring new offensive system and traditionally stout defense, warranted a consensus Top Ten preseason ranking among national polls and stayed there (even after an ugly 3-2 win over Miss State) until a Week 4 loss to LSU.

10 … The SEC ranks in offense (Auburn) and defense (Georgia) heading into last weekend’s games.

Auburn has never completely gotten a handle on the spread offense attack installed at the end of last season. A significant culprit is inconsistent QB play from first Chris Todd and lately Kodi Burns. The numbers would be much worse if not for games with LA-Monroe, Southern Miss, and UT-Martin.

Georgia’s defense wilted in the biggest games of the year, yielding 41 points to Alabama and 49 to Florida. The Dogs never really competed in those two games, and the statistics got even worse this past weekend when Georgia won despite Kentucky ringing up 38 points.

125 and 115 … The number of points Georgia has given up its past three games (125) and the number of points Auburn has scored in its five wins (115).

Even though the Dogs won two of those games, that three-game span is the worst non-overtime stretch for a Georgia defense since 1994.

Auburn’s offensive ineptitude is evident even during victories as the Tigers have posted a win with single digit points (3), one win with a point total in the teens (14 vs. Tennessee), a win in the 20s (27 vs. Southern Miss), and two wins in the 30s (34 against LA-Monroe and 37 last week vs. UT-Martin).

5 and 2 … The number of offensive coordinators (Auburn) and defensive coordinators (Georgia) under Tommy Tuberville and Mark Richt.

While Tuberville has a nucleus of offensive coaches who stick with him (Greg Knox, Hugh Nall, and Eddie Gran have all been with Tubs dating to his Ole Miss days in the mid-1990s), he has never been shy about firing OCs. He’ll hire another for next year … if he’s back himself.

Richt’s staff is even more stable. Willie Martinez was on Richt’s original staff at Georgia, and became defensive coordinator in 2005 when Brian Van Gorder left for the NFL. Those are the only two DCs Richt has had, but there is increasing pressure on Martinez.

111 and 15 … The number of times the game has been played (111) makes it the nation’s seventh most played rivalry. Both teams average 15 points per game in the series.

The Auburn-Georgia rivalry is remarkably close in every aspect.

Auburn leads 53-50-8 overall and the average score is Georgia 15.59 and Auburn 15.18. The competition also rarely spills over into the over-the-top animosity found in bitter feuds like Alabama-Auburn or Georgia-Florida. This game is more akin to a hard-fought battle between close cousins.

5-5, 6-6, and 8-8-1 … The won-loss record in this rivalry going back ten years, twelve years, and seventeen years. You cannot get much closer.

While Auburn is down this season, the Tigers can earn a bowl bid by beating either Georgia or Alabama. This game provides the best opportunity, but Georgia should prevail.

Game Ball: Georgia

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