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No. 5 Georgia out in front of No. 24 Auburn between the hedges at halftime

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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.

No. 20 Texas A&M blows 10-point lead in fourth quarter as Auburn stuns Aggies

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No. 20 Texas A&M was not able to close out Auburn on the road on Saturday afternoon. The Aggies failed to protect a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost to Auburn, 28-24, on the road in the SEC West Division matchup.

Texas A&M had some chances to slam the door on Auburn but could not do it. With a 24-14 lead in the fourth quarter, Texas A&M missed a field goal from 36 yards and Kellen Mond was intercepted on Texas A&M’s next offensive series. That set in motion the rally for Auburn that turned a double-digit deficit into a big division win for the Tigers.

After Auburn cut the Texas A&M lead to 24-21 in the fourth quarter, the Aggies moved the ball to midfield when their drive stalled. A 41-yard punt was returned by Christian Tutt for 28 yards and immediately followed by a short pass from Jarrett Stidham to Ryan Davis that turned into a 47-yard gain. With the ball suddenly at the Texas A&M 11-yard line, Stidham connected with Seth Williams for a go-ahead score.

With the ball one last time, the Aggies failed to get into a position to get a better shot at a game-winning touchdown and relied on Mond to toss it deep in the final seconds. His deep Hail Marry pass fell out of bounds as time seemingly ran out, but officials cleared the field to put one second back on the clock for one more play for the Aggies. The one second added merely gave Nick Coe a chance to get a sack on the final play of the game to seal the win for Auburn.

Stidham passed for 239 yards while completing 18-of-29 attempts with two touchdowns. Darious Slayton was Auburn’s leading receiver with eight catches for 107 yards, but Seth Williams led all players with two touchdown receptions in the Auburn win.

Texas A&M let a solid performance by running back Trayveon Williams go to waste. Williams rushed for 107 yards and two touchdowns on 17 rushing attempts and he added five receptions for 74 yards and a score in the game. Williams was the star of the first half but Auburn played him better defensively in the second half.

Texas A&M will finish up the regular season with three home games beginning next week against Ole Miss. The Aggies are 3-1 at home this season, with the only loss coming back in Week 2 against Clemson by just two points. If Texas A&M can clean up the schedule at home, the Aggies will have a chance at their first 9-win season since 2013, the school’s second season in the SEC. The Aggies need to win out and win a bowl game in order for that to happen.

Although the win feels good and can be a confidence boost, it won’t get much easier for Auburn down the stretch. Auburn travels to Georgia next week and ends the regular season on the road against Alabama with a home game against Liberty sandwiched between. Auburn beat both Georgia and Alabama in the regular season last year, but they also got the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide at home. This year could be a different story with both games being played on the road.

Trayveon Williams scores two touchdowns to give Texas A&M halftime lead at Auburn

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If you are not already familiar with Texas A&M running back Trayveon Williams, perhaps he has grabbed your attention this afternoon. Williams has rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown and added a 14-yard touchdown reception off a screen pass to push the Aggies to a halftime lead at Auburn, 17-14. With both teams jockeying for position in the SEC West standings and for the opportunity to clinch bowl eligibility, Auburn’s defense will have to find a way to clamp down on Williams in the second half.

Texas A&M picked up a field goal off the leg of Seth Small from 35 yards on their first offensive series of the game, capping a 13-play drive that was fueled by running the ball but ultimately stalled when attempting to throw the ball. A fumble by Kellen Mond on the next offensive series for the Aggies gave Auburn a short field to work with from the Texas A&M 20-yard line.

Sal Cannella gave Auburn a 7-3 lead by hauliong in a 20-yard pass from receiver Ryan Davis immediately following the A&M fumble, but Texas A&M responded with a Trayveon Williams touchdown run of 38 yards on the ensuing possession.

Texas A&M headed to halftime with an advantage in offensive yards, 233-127, and the Aggies have been averaging 6.8 rushing yards per attempt while Auburn is struggling with just 1.5 yards per rushing attempt. This one is still upfor grabs, but the Auburn offense needs to find a spark to counter what Williams has been capable of providing for Texas A&M.

Auburn kicks their way to halftime lead on Washington in Atlanta

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You want some defensive football? You are getting it in Atlanta this afternoon. No. 9 Auburn holds a 15-13 lead on No. 6 Washington at halftime. Auburn kicker Anders Carlson has converted three field goals to help put points on the board for the Tigers.

Auburn’s defense set the tone on the first series of the game, forcing Washington to go three-and-out without picking up any yards, and the Tigers offense got to work on a short field thanks to a 32-yard punt return by Ryan Davis. Jarrett Stidham connected with Sal Cannella from 10 yards out for a touchdown thanks to an incredible effort by Canella to leap into the air to bring the ball down in the end zone.

Auburn’s Jamel Dean picked off a pass from Jake Browning on the next offensive series for the Huskies, which led to an Auburn field goal to take a 9-0 lead. It was a rough start for Washington, but it could have been worse. Washington got on the board on their next drive with a field goal.

Washington hopes to capitalize on a late momentum swing courtesy of a quick offensive touchdown drive, highlighted by a wonderful sideline catch by Ty Jones on the right sideline and followed immediately by a beautiful pass from Browning to Quinten Pounds for a touchdown.

This is still anyone’s game, and this should be a fun finish.

Biletnikoff Award watch list highlighted by 2017 finalist David Sills

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You know how I know we’re getting closer to the start of a new season?  Yet another watch list.

The latest to release theirs is the Biletnikoff Award, with the honor going to the nation’s top receiver issuing a list consisting of 50 players from all nine FBS conferences as well as one independent (UMass).  Headlining this year’s preseason list is West Virginia’s David Sills, who was a finalist for the 2017 award claimed by Oklahoma State’s James Washington.  One other 2017 semifinalist is included as well, Ole Miss’ A.J. Brown.

A total of seven teams placed two receivers each on the watch list: Cal (Kanawai Noa, Vic Wharton III), Louisville (Dez Fitzpatrick, Jaylen Smith), Nebraska (Stanley Morgan Jr., JD Spielman), North Texas (Jalen Guyton, Michael Lawrence), Oklahoma (Marquise Brown, CeeDee Lamb), Toledo (Diontae Johnson, Cody Thompson) and West Virginia (Gary Jennings Jr., Sills).

Three conferences totaled seven players apiece, the ACC, Big 12 and MAC.  That trio is followed by five each from Conference USA and four apiece for the AAC, Pac-12 and Sun Belt.  The Big Ten and Mountain West each placed three.

Below is the complete list of 2018 Biletnikoff Award preseason watch listers:

JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford
Tyre Brady, Marshall
A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
Marquise Brown, Oklahoma
Trevon Brown, East Carolina
Ryan Davis, Auburn
Greg Dortch, Wake Forest
Terren Encalade, Tulane
Dez Fitzpatrick, Louisville
James Gardner, Miami-Ohio
Jonathan Giles, LSU
Marcus Green, ULM
Jalen Guyton, North Texas
Emanuel Hall, Missouri
Justin Hall, Ball State
Kelvin Harmon, North Carolina State
N’Keal Harry, Arizona State
Penny Hart, Georgia State
Justin Hobbs, Tulsa
Andy Isabella, Massachusetts
Gary Jennings Jr., West Virginia
Anthony Johnson, Buffalo
Collin Johnson, Texas
Diontae Johnson, Toledo
KeeSean Johnson, Fresno State
CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
Michael Lawrence, North Texas
Ty Lee Middle, Tennessee
McLane Mannix, Nevada
Scott Miller, Bowling Green
Denzel Mims, Baylor
Stanley Morgan Jr., Nebraska
Kanawai Noa, California
James Proche, SMU
T.J. Rahming, Duke
Ahmmon Richards, Miami
Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
David Sills V, West Virginia
Steven Sims Jr., Kansas
Jaylen Smith, Louisville
Kwadarrius Smith, Akron
JD Spielman, Nebraska
Cody Thompson, Toledo
John Ursua, Hawaii
Teddy Veal, Louisiana Tech
Jamarius Way, South Alabama
Nick Westbrook, Indiana
Vic Wharton III, California
Malcolm Williams, Coastal Carolina
Olamide Zaccheaus, Virginia