No. 5 Georgia and No. 24 Auburn split their two meetings last season in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry but the rubber match in Athens this year might be a one-sided affair as the Bulldogs used a big third quarter to take a 20-10 lead into the locker room at halftime of a fun one between the hedges.
Tigers QB Jarrett Stidham threw for 108 yards in a solid performance for him given the hostile conditions (though JaTarvious Whitlow wound up with a touchdown throw off a trick play). That the signal-caller did it without getting sacked and without much a run game (27 yards total for Gus Malzhan’s squad) was a testament to just how sharp he was early. Senior Ryan Davis was not surprisingly on the other end of six of those passes (50 yards) and became the program’s all-time leader in career receptions early in the first quarter as a result.
Perhaps the biggest moment of the game for the visitors came on defense however. While that unit was quite stout in the first half against a team that can throw a number of playmakers at you, they did suffer a big loss when Big Kat Bryant was ejected for targeting on a third down play in a second quarter. The fairly obvious call on a hit to quarterback Jake Fromm will no doubt have lingering effects on the team as they allowed another long drive on their next defensive possession.
Speaking of which, while the Bulldogs could move the ball between the 20’s, their red zone offense left much to be desired with three trips inside the 10 yard line resulting in just one touchdown. Fromm was 10-of-13 with 148 yards and tossed a beautiful throw across the field to Tyler Simmons in the end zone for a touchdown. The quarterback added another scoring toss when he found a streaking Terry Godwin on fourth down, who promptly took it 38 yards to the house just before the halftime break.
Georgia’s tailbacks were also heavily involved in the first half, as is typical, with Elijah Holyfield recording 50 yards rushing while D’Andre Swift was a typical multipurpose threat with 53 yards on the ground and 33 more through the air.
Both games last season were actually somewhat close at the break before one of the two sides pulled away starting in the third quarter. We’ll see if that is the case once again in 2018 or if Georgia was already starting to assert their dominance in the second quarter and will keep things rolling from there.