At the beginning of the season it was thought Saturday’s game between Auburn and Georgia could serve as a preview of the SEC Championship Game. That, obviously was not the case and we saw the latest exmaple of why in the afternoon’s early slate of games. Georgia (7-3, 5-3 SEC) scored 17 striaght second-half points to hand Auburn (5-5, 2-5 SEC) a 20-13 loss and drop the Tigers to .500.
Georgia’s Isaiah McKenzie returned a punt 53 yards for a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. Moments earlier, on Georgia’s previous possession, the Bulldogs offense got caught going the wrong way with penalty after penalty setting up a 3rd and 41. It was the second touchdown of the half for McKenzie after rushing for a four-yard score in the third quarter to tie the game at 10-10. Georgia later added a field goal to pad the lead.
Auburn lost two fumbles in the second half, including one by Ricardo Louis on 3rd and 2 at the Georgia five-yard line. With the Tigers down 10 points, the Tigers had their most promising drive of the half until Louis pushed up the middle and lost the football as he reached for a touchdown. He may have already had the first down if he held on to the football. There was a certain bit of irony in Louis being the one to lose the fumble, of course. It was Louis who caught the deflected pass from a pair of Georgia defenders two seasons ago that handed the Bulldogs a loss.
Neither offense did much to deserve a win. Auburn had three turnovers, but the Tigers outgained Georgia 275-243. Neither team eclipsed the century mark througfh the air. Greyson Lambert of Georgia completed 12 of 17 passes for 97 yards, and Auburn’s Jeremy Johnson completed 14 of 22 passes for 61 yards. Neither threw a touchdown pass.
This was Georgia’s final SEC game of the season, with Georgia Southern at home on the schedule next week and the regular season finale against rival Georgia Tech in Atlanta the following week. The Bulldogs won five games in SEC play in all but just three seasons since Mark Richt has been the head coach of the program.
Auburn was a popular preseason pick to make a run for the SEC, playoff and perhaps the national championship. The reality of this season is now that Auburn must beat Idaho next week to become bowl eligible, because a win against Alabama is probably not very likely in this year’s Iron Bowl the way Alabama has been playing.