AUBURN, Ala. — It’s no secret Auburn coach Gus Malzahn is no fan of Georgia coach Kirby Smart, so Saturday night’s loss seemed a particularly bitter pill after the Tigers’ fourth quarter comeback fell short.
Smart’s defense shut out Malzahn’s offense for three quarters before the Tigers scrambled for two touchdowns on their final four possessions.
It wasn’t enough, however, as the No. 4-ranked Bulldogs held on for the 21-14 loss.
Malzahn, whose team ran 86 plays, was impressed with the Tigers’ effort on offense and defense in the defeat.
“We were down 21-0 and it didn’t look good, and we fought back and really had some chances,” said Malzahn, now 9-1 in games where his teams are coming off a bye week.
“Our guys fought their guts out, they fought their guts out for Auburn, and we’ve got some hurt guys in that locker room,” he said. “Give Georgia credit, they have a very talented defense and we knew that coming in.
“That’s one of the top defenses in the entire country and we still had a chance.”
The Bulldogs, however, were only a 2-point favorite at Auburn by kickoff time, and many predicted an upset.
Georgia go-to target Lawrence Cager aggravated his shoulder injury in the first quarter and was out the rest of the game, limiting the Bulldogs pass attack.
Georgia also had two starting offensive linemen miss snaps, Cade Mays and Ben Cleveland.
Still, Georgia’s offense was non-existent against Kevin Steele’s defense in the fourth quarter, netting just 2 yards with no first downs on 12 plays.
“They stuffed them in the fourth quarter,” Malzahn said. “We had the momentum and the crowd was in it.”