AUBURN, Ala. – The hope in one camp, and the worry in the other, was that Auburn would have a chance if it could somehow contain Georgia’s running game, or if it could run against Georgia’s vaunted defense.
Then both happened.
And a Georgia team used to dominating the line of scrimmage and the scoreboard found itself on the wrong end of both.
“They controlled the line of scrimmage and were able to kind of run it at will, and they stopped our run,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “You shake their hand and tell them they did a good job, and we’ve got to pick it up and go get better.”
The ugly tale from the statbook:
- Total yards: Auburn 488, Georgia 230
- Rushing yards: Auburn 237, Georgia 46
- Sacks: Auburn 4 (loss of 37 yards), Georgia 2 (loss of 12 yards)
- Final score: Auburn 40, Georgia 17
“They were just being physical,” Georgia tailback Sony Michel said. “They were out there playing football, SEC football. They were more physical than us [Saturday].”
Michel (21 yards on 9 rushes) and Nick Chubb (27 yards on 11 rushes) finished with season lows. Neither had a run longer than 7 yards.
The offensive line, which had made such progress this season opening holes and getting a consistent push, struggled to do both. The result was Georgia finding itself in a lot of second-and-longs.
“No doubt it was a struggle because that’s what we mainly do,” Georgia right guard Solomon Kindley said. “We had to do a lot of other stuff other than what we usually do.”
But whether it was the O-line, the play calling or the tailbacks, no blame was being assigned in the postgame interview session.
“It’s on all of us,” Chubb said. “I don’t think we executed as well as we should have been. But it’s over with now. We’ve got to watch the film and be critical of ourselves and continue to play.”
Defensively, Georgia came in with the SEC’s second-best run defense, yielding 89 rushing yards a game and 3 yards per rush attempt. Auburn ended up averaging 5.2 yards per rush.
Auburn was able to get yards all over the place, either pounding it up the middle or going outside.
“We didn’t keep our edges well,” Smart said. “They’re tough to defend.”
It wasn’t completely out of nowhere: Auburn came in ranked fourth in the SEC in run defense and running offense. Hence the thinking that it had a chance to make this a game.
But Georgia came in first in the SEC in running offense, averaging 279 yards per game. No opponent had come close to reaching 200 rushing yards.
And then this happened.
“They outphysicaled us on both sides of the line of scrimmage,” Smart said. “Every SEC game I’ve ever been in, if you lose the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball you don’t have a great chance of a good outcome.”