SEC Championship Game
No. 2 Auburn (10-2, 7-1) vs. No. 6 Georgia (11-1, 7-1)
Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, Atlanta
HOW THESE TEAMS GOT HERE:
Auburn: After losing to Clemson in Week 2 and letting LSU come back for a win on Oct. 16, Auburn has been on a roll. The Tigers have won five-straight games including two over the teams that were at No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings at the time.
Three weeks ago, the Tigers dismantled Georgia and knocked the Bulldogs from being undefeated. Last week, they did the same to Alabama, potentially putting the Tide on the outside of the playoff. It would be quite sweet for Auburn fans for their team to get into the playoff and for Alabama to miss it.
Georgia: The Bulldogs rolled everyone in the SEC East to clinch the division in quite anti-climactic fashion. South Carolina finished second in the East and Georgia easily dispatched the Gamecocks 24-10 in Columbia. Georgia also got a very good win against Notre Dame in Week 2, beating the Irish 20-19 in South Bend. It’s a win that doesn’t look as good as it did a few weeks ago, but if Georgia wins on Saturday, there’s nothing keeping the Bulldogs out of the playoff.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn: Johnson is a possible game-time decision for Saturday’s game because of a shoulder injury. If he doesn’t play, Kam Martin will get the bulk of Auburn’s carries because Kam Pettway is also out for Saturday’s game.
If Johnson plays, it’s an understatement to say he’s been Auburn’s bellcow back. He’s had 20 or more carries in eight-straight games and had 30 carries for 104 yards and a score — along with a passing touchdown — against Alabama before leaving the Iron Bowl with that shoulder injury. His ability to play could determine how Auburn’s offense attacks Georgia.
Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia: As Auburn blitzed the Bulldogs 40-17 on Nov. 11, Fromm struggled. And, to be fair, so did Georgia’s offensive line. The Bulldogs couldn’t run the ball, couldn’t protect Fromm and, in the nanoseconds that Fromm had before getting hit by Auburn defenders, the freshman QB couldn’t find open receivers.
If Auburn can bottle up Georgia RBs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel again, Georgia has to figure out a way for Fromm to be productive. Is it rolling him out? Lots of quick screens? This is the biggest game of Fromm’s career and Georgia going conservative may not be a successful strategy.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Because the winner is heading to the College Football Playoff. And it’ll be fascinating to see what adjustments Georgia makes to combat Auburn’s defense. Was Auburn’s defensive performance too reliant on the home crowd? With the game in Atlanta, there should be a lot of Georgia fans in attendance.
Remember — Georgia rushed for just 46 yards and had only 230 total yards in that 40-17 loss.
WHAT’S ON THE LINE: No matter what happens in the ACC, Big 12 and Big Ten title games, the SEC champion has a spot penciled in for the final four. It’s just a matter of finding out whether it’s Auburn or Georgia heading to the playoff. If it’s Auburn, the Tigers will be the first two-loss team to make the playoff in the four years of its existence. If it’s Georgia, it’ll be the Bulldogs’ first final four appearance.
Sam Cooper: Auburn 27, Georgia 24
Nick Bromberg: Auburn 30, Georgia 20
Cody Brunner: Auburn 28, Georgia 14
– – – – – – –