There will be a separating of teams this week in the SEC. Sure, there’s Alabama and Georgia riding high at the top of the SEC West and SEC East respectively, but is there any true No. 3 in the SEC overall?
Florida appeared to be that team until it misfired offensively despite racking up 382 yards of offense against the Wildcats. Kentucky hung on to win 20-13 in Lexington, leaving the opportunity for another SEC team to be the third best squad in the SEC. Here’s a podcast breaking down the four best SEC games this week, followed by a detailed look at the Georgia at Auburn game and predictions for all four SEC games:
Georgia Travels to Auburn for First True Road Test
After a 37-0 rout of No. 8 Arkansas last week at home, No. 2 Georgia will look to continue their domination against the Auburn Tigers on Saturday.
The key to the Bulldogs’ 5-0 start has been the defense. It’s one of the most talked about defenses in recent memory, and rightfully so. Georgia gave up just one offensive touchdown all season, and that was in garbage time against South Carolina.
In five games, Georgia has given up a total of 23 points, for an alarming average of 4.6 points a game. They’re only allowing 180.6 yards of total offense a game, and allowing just 3.3 yards per play. They rank number one in all of college football in these three categories. One of the reasons for Georgia's defensive success would be linebacker talent.
The strength of the Bulldogs' defense is the linebacking core. They are led by inside backers Nakobe Dean and Channing Tindall. Both Dean and Tindall can be seen flying all over the field to the ball. Both feature incredible speed and quickness and are a big reason that opponents are only running for 2.4 yards a carry.
Dean and Tindall don’t just contribute in the run game however, Dean has already racked up 3.5 sacks thus far. Tindall, though he only has one sack, has provided constant pressure that has allowed others to be the beneficiaries and pad their sack numbers.
At outside linebacker, Adam Anderson has four sacks and Nolan Smith has 2.5. Both are elite edge rushers who constantly make life difficult for opposing quarterbacks.
Their next victim will be Auburn quarterback Bo Nix. Nix in his third year as the Tigers’ starter, but was benched for former LSU transfer TJ Finley when the Tigers were nearly upset two weeks ago against Georgia State.
Last week against LSU, Nix seemed to regain the starting role when he made a circus play that saw him running back and forth in the backfield and eluding countless LSU defenders before finally finding receiver Tyler Fromm for a 24-yard touchdown to get back in the game.
Nix will have to have similar tricks up his sleeve if he’s going to do the same against Georgia.
The biggest difference for Nix and the Tigers’ offense this season has been the loss of last year’s key receivers Seth Williams and Anthony Schwartz.
Both Williams and Schwartz were huge weapons for Auburn last year, but graduated after the season. Williams was a deep threat who bailed Nix out on countless occasions. Nix often made ill-advised throws down field that looked to be probable interceptions, Williams would change that by going up over defenders and somehow coming down with the grab.
Schwartz was arguably the fastest player in college football. He ran a 4.27 in the 40-yard dash at Auburn’s pro day last spring. Nix and the Tigers consistently found ways to get the ball into Schwartz’s hands, and he would do the rest.
Without these two, Nix hasn’t had an elite weapon he can trust to get him out of trouble thus far, which could be a big reason for his lack of success and benching.
Nix will certainly need someone to step up if he wants to upset Georgia Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
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