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.
Georgia’s offense has, at times, found ways to move down field against an Auburn defense that tends to have plenty of holes, but the Bulldogs have managed to sneak just three point son to the giant scoreboard at Jordan-Hare Stadium this afternoon so far. Auburn leads Georgia 7-3 at the halftime break.
Auburn took the game’s opening drive right down the field for an early touchdown. The 11-play drive spanning 75 yards featured a couple of big runs by Ricardo Louis and Jovon Robinson, and quarterback Jeremy Johnson completed all four pass attempts along the way before Kerryon Johnson capped the drive with a seven-yard touchdown run.
Georgia had one drive stall just shy of the end zone when Mark Richt opted to go for a first down rather than kick a field goal from inside the two-yard line. Keep that in mind if this thing is a tight game later on in the second half.
At the half, Auburn and Georgia have combined for 91 passing yards between Johnson and Georgia’s Greyson Lambert. Johnson started in front of an injured Sean White, who has not seen the field. He has also been picked off once.
Auburn’s offense has a long way to go to put the Tigers in position to score an upset of No. 19 Ole Miss this afternoon, but the defense has more than done enough to make it a possibility. Auburn held a 10-3 lead on the visiting Rebels in the second quarter, but the Rebels may be swinging the momentum back in their favor at the half after a 25-yard touchdown run by Akeem Judd up the middle of the Auburn defense has tied the game at 10-10 heading to halftime.
the half ended on a crazy note when it appeared Jeremy Johnson fumbled the football and Ole Miss recovered to return for a possible touchdown, but SEC officials ruled Johnson was down with possession as the clock expired. Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze challenge the call on the field before the teams left the field. After a video review, SEC officials ruled the play on the field was actually confirmed, although the video replays shown on TV would suggest otherwise. Remember that if Ole Miss loses by a single score, because at the very least Ole Miss may have had a chance at a field goal before the first half ended.
Ole Miss was forced to try a field goal at the end of a 12-play, 72-yard drive on their first possession of the afternoon. The drive, which stalled at the Auburn nine-yard line when Akeem Judd was stuffed for no gain on third down. Gary Wunderlich‘s 27-yard field goal was the first score of the game. The Rebels defense then came up with a big play on Auburn’s next possession when Tony Bridges picked off a pass from Sean White at the Ole Miss 20-yard line. Auburn’s defense would respond though, forcing a three-and-out after Chad Kelly‘s first two pass attempts fell incomplete and then the Tigers defense sacked the quarterback for a loss of eight yards.
Auburn would tie things up with a field goal four plays later with a 52-yard field goal by Daniel Carlson. Auburn took its first lead of the afternoon the next time the offense got its hands on the football. A 23-yard pass from White to Roc Thomas put the Tigers at midfield and on 3rd and five from the Ole Miss 47-yard line, White completed a pass down field over the middle to Ricardo Louis, who had nobody in front of him on his path to the endzone.
Both teams have played well defensively, although Ole Miss seems to be getting more on offense at the break. Auburn may need the win more than Ole Miss if you are wondering about bowl scenarios. Despite a winning record of 4-3, Auburn needs to win two more games to become bowl eligible and still has this game against Ole Miss, a road game at Texas A&M, home game against Georgia and a home game agains t Alabama (and a home game vs. Idaho). Picking up two more wins could be difficult. Can they get one today?
In the first Big Ten vs. SEC battle of the day, No. 19 Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall has been the more efficient of the two quarterbacks on the field through one half of play in the Outback Bowl. A 66-yard bomb to Ricardo Louis midway through the second quarter gave the Tigers a 14-7 advantage on the Badgers. Auburn holds that 14-7 lead at the half. The Tigers also have Will Muschamp helping out with the defense with the new defensive coordinator in the coaches box with a headset. The Tigers have forced a pair of turnovers.
Marshall has thrown for 131 yards, with roughly half of that yardage coming on the long touchdown run. He has also shown some good strength in avoiding a sack and has been fortunate to avoid having a turnover.
Wisconsin has turned the football over twice, including one interception inside the red zone late in the first half. Joel Stave has been intercepted twice in the game, while completing 7 of 13 passes for just 68 yards and a touchdown. It was a good start from Stave as he ended the game’s opening possession with a touchdown pass to Corey Clement for a 7-0 lead, but it has been rocky since.
The Badgers have put Heisman Trophy runner-up Melvin Gordon to work, with 15 carries for 81 yards, but Clement has had a role as well with interim head coach Barry Alvarez calling the shots. Clement has added 53 rushing yards.
Wisconsin’s starting center, Dan Voltz, was carted off the field late in the first quarter with what looked to be an ankle injury. He is out for the remainder of the game.
A torn torn patellar tendon was to blame for the early end to Auburn wide receiver Jaylon Denson‘s 2013 season. The injury was suffered against LSU last September, before Auburn’s run to the SEC championship could have been seen as a realistic possibility. Denson’s road back to the playing field took a big step forward on Tuesday by running his first routes since going down to the injury.
Denson was responsible for three receptions and 45 receiving yards in his brief junior season last fall, but is regarded as a dependable target for the Auburn offense. Denson was a four-star recruit out of Hoover, Alabama in the Class of 2011. He has yet to have much of an impact on the field for the Tigers, but if he returns healthy and can stay on the field, he could add a little bit of a veteran presence in the Auburn passing game, which was led by a youthful mix last fall with sophomores Sammie Coates and Ricardo Louis and freshman Marcus Davis. At this point it is not expected Denson will become a go-to receiver, but having a receiver with good hands should make the Auburn offense a bit more dangerous in the fall with opposing defenses struggling to lock down on all targets.
Denson was held out of spring practices while he continued to rehab.