Georgia Holds Off Auburn: Five Takeaways from the Bulldogs Win
The Georgia Bulldogs were able to withstand a fourth-quarter push from Auburn in a 21-14 win, clinching their third consecutive SEC East division title.
Despite the game feeling seemingly out of hand after Georgia scored its third and final touchdown to go up 21-0 with just 20 seconds left in the third quarter, the Bulldogs' offense stalled on three straight possessions (including a three-and-out that used up only 55 seconds) and the Tigers proceeded to put up two scores.
It was a sloppy second half for Georgia, but nonetheless a victory in Auburn. The Dawgs have now won the last three contests against the Tigers.
Here are five key takeaways from the win inside Jordan-Hare Stadium:
Georgia's depth upfront paying dividends
Georgia lost two key contributors on the offensive line at points in this contest. With Cade Mays and Ben Cleveland both battling lingering injuries, Jamaree Salyer was called upon to enter and held his own against the best defensive line the SEC has to offer.
Auburn ran 86 plays—the most by any opponent in the Kirby Smart era. The ability of the Bulldogs' defense to make three consecutive stops at a point in the game where Georgia simply could not move the football is a testament to its greatness. But without the ability to rotate six or seven guys on that front, those kind of late-game efforts aren't possible.
Kirby Smart will continue to trust his defense late
Georgia's three toughest games on the season so far—Notre Dame, Florida, and Auburn—have all been decided by one score. However, Georgia had at least a two-score lead in the fourth quarter of all three games. Tonight, it had a three-score lead headed into the fourth.
Georgia fans will tell you that it's at this point when Smart and his staff proceed to "pull their foot off the gas," becoming even more run-first on offense, if that's at all possible. Smart will continue to believe that as long as his team has a lead, his defense will get the stop it needs.
Georgia's freshmen continue to stand out
Though a one-catch day likely wasn't the coming home reunion freshman receiver George Pickens expected against Auburn, he and the rest of his classmates continue to play well. Dominick Blaylock had the game's most explosive play with a 51-yard TD grab that got things started.
Travon Walker and Tyrique Stevenson made huge contributions on the defensive end for Georgia as well, both coming up with key tackles for loss on third down.
Bo Nix is going to be something special
In his first year of college football, Bo Nix will play five top-10 football teams by year's end. Five. So, after what appears to be the toughest introduction to SEC football in recent memory, Nix will be prepared for just about anything that comes his way.
Though he hasn't been statistically impressive in any of the four games against top-10 opponents so far, Nix has found ways to give his team at least a shot at the end of games.
86 plays and 32 minutes of possession wore down UGA's D
We've talked about Georgia's defense a lot lately, and three-quarters of the way through Saturday's ballgame it looked like the Dawgs were going to shutout a Gus Malzahn-coached football team, something that's never happened in the 102 games of his coaching career.
But after 86 plays and 32 minutes worth of possession from the Tigers, this Georgia defense finally showed signs of mortality. It allowed its first rushing touchdown of the season on Saturday, as the streak ended at 39 quarters without a score on the ground. It was the longest such streak in the last 25 years of college football.