The stories of the game
Turnovers, and each team’s response to them.
Georgia took advantage of two key fumbles, both in its own territory. It also blocked a field goal. They turned the game around, first when it appeared Auburn could run away with it, and then when Auburn was trying to re-take the lead.
Great coaching by Georgia, from Jim Chaney’s play-calling to Mel Tucker’s defensive calls. And great job by Georgia not to bug itself out over all the penalties.
The Bulldogs are on their way to the College Football Playoff. What was already a great season now has a chance to be historic.
Swift into the night
D’Andre Swift goes 64 yards and what seemed destined to be a classic is now a runaway. Georgia has a 28-7 lead over Auburn with 10:34 left in the SEC championship.
Sure looks like you can start looking at flights to New Orleans or Los Angeles. (Just don’t book them yet. We’ve been debating it up here and could still see either being the destination.)
There’s still lots of time left, but …
… It feels like a certain result is inevitable. Georgia is on top of its game right now and Auburn is unraveling.
Georgia is putting a lot of pressure on Jarrett Stidham, whose last few passes have been off. And clearly Auburn will have to pass to get back in this game.
The Bulldogs offense, meantime, is pushing all the right buttons, including Jim Chaney. It would take something monumental right now. UGA fans in here right now are exuberant, and they should be.
Georgia takes command
The Bulldogs do indeed take advantage of the turnover, with Jake Fromm hitting Terry Godwin in the end zone, and it’s all Georgia right now.
Even the two-point conversion works out, with Fromm hitting Godwin on the other side of the end zone on a timing pattern.
Georgia leads 21-7, with 13:06 left in the SEC championship.
Another huge turnover
And Roquan Smith again recovers it.
Kerryon Johnson fumbled the ball away on a run up the middle, and it bounced near the sideline, where Smith scooped it up and ran it back to Auburn’s 39.
Georgia has a chance to take advantage and take a two-possession lead, as time winds down in the SEC championship.
Smith, meanwhile, is up to 13 tackles – 10 of them solo – a sack and two fumble recoveries.
Georgia adds a field goal
Rodrigo Blankenship gives UGA some breathing room, though not a tremendous amount, and the score is now 13-7.
Credit to Georgia’s defense and special teams, which held firm when Auburn was driving several times. There have been several opportunities for Auburn to press the point and take the lead, and it didn’t, giving the UGA offense enough time to put together a drive.
Now we’ll see if UGA’s defense can keep holding off the Tigers.
Sony Michel update
The Georgia star tailback went into the medical tent during Auburn’s previous drive here in the third quarter. When the drive ended – with a punt – Michel came out, but he hasn’t put his helmet back on. He’s still talking to trainers as Georgia’s offense takes the field.
UPDATE: Michel put his helmet down, an indication he’s not coming back anytime soon. No official update from the team yet.
FURTHER UPDATE: Chuck Dowdle reports from the sideline that Michel has a left knee injury and is out of the game for now.
Georgia with another huge play
And in about the same spot on the field as the previous big play of the game: DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle blocks the field goal on what should have been a chip-shot to tie it, and Georgia still leads 10-7.
It looked like a low kick by Daniel Carlson, after a bit of a high snap.
This after Georgia’s defense had bent but not broken: A near-sack by Lorenzo Carter saw Jarrett Stidham scramble and find Ryan Davis, who took it and ran for a 29-yard gain. One play later Kerryon Johnson went 15 yards down the right side, followed by a 13-yard completion to Davis again.
Just like that, Auburn was inside the 20. But Georgia was able to hold in the red zone, and then the special teams did their part.
Auburn has lost two defensive starters for the rest of the game: cornerback Carlton Davis and linebacker Tre’ Williams.
Georgia, on the other hand, got healthier, as nose tackle John Atkins returned at the start of the second half. He was out almost the entire first half. Georgia is still playing without cornerback Malkom Parrish, who is sitting out with an unknown malady.
Halftime analysis: Seven thoughts
1. This was a textbook case of one play turning a game: Auburn was about to go up either 10-0 or 14-0, but Davin Bellamy’s sack-strip turned the ball over, and Georgia’s sideline and crowd came alive. And just like that, the Bulldogs had a 10-7 lead. That’s why coaches preach about every single little play. That one may have turned an SEC championship game.
2. Of course, we’ll see if a questionable call ends up turning it the other way: Georgia could be up 14-7, but it was nullified by the pick-play call that nullified the Terry Godwin touchdown. It looked very questionable on replay, and you’d love to get a halftime comment from the officiating crew, or the SEC, but that surely will be said to be a judgment call.
3. The officials have indeed been very, uh, active, so far: Georgia has been penalized four times for 46 yards, and Auburn three times for 24 yards. And it’s the kind of penalties being called: A pick-play, a facemask on Deandre Baker when it appeared to be pass interference, the PI against Baker that was called but might not have been … and so on. Hey, maybe the officials are just getting all the calls out of the way.
4. A great first half for Jake Fromm, who is 9-for-10 for 119 yards, one touchdown pass and nearly other one. And quite a recovery from his offensive line, which went from giving up two sacks on one series in the first quarter to giving Fromm time to throw in the second half. Jim Chaney has also mixed up the play calls, throwing a lot on first down, unlike the first time.
5. Georgia isn’t being dominated on both lines of scrimmage the way it was the first time. It hasn’t flipped it, but Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are averaging over 5 yards a carry, and Auburn is averaging just 3.2 yards a carry.
6. Jarrett Stidham had a good first half too (10-for-12, 73 yards, 1 TD) but he hasn’t had as much time to throw as the first game. Georgia has put great pressure on him, mixing up blitzes.
7. Roquan Smith remains such a great player. He has eight tackles in the first half, and the sack to end Auburn’s last drive could also be a game-turner. Remember, Auburn has a lot of range on field goals with Daniel Carlson. It could be tied now.
Final thought: This is the same halftime score as the last two times Georgia appeared in the SEC championship. (It led LSU and then trailed Alabama.) The LSU game ended up a rout, the Alabama game a classic. This one looks like it will be more the latter, with the teams looking evenly matched, each dominating one quarter. Georgia, which gets the ball to start the second half, is in good position, but this could turn quickly.
Plenty to cheer, plenty to boo
Penalties are again looming large, and not in Georgia’s favor: Deandre Baker is called for a facemask penalty, which he apparently committed before he caught a deep interception downfield.
Georgia fans again booed, but more tepidly this time, because it looked like Baker may have gotten away with a pass interference, pushing the receiver away before hauling in the pass.
Georgia takes the lead, but it could’ve been more
Bulldog fans are again booing a call, this one that cost their team four points.
Terry Godwin had caught a short pass for a 2-yard touchdown. But the officials threw a flag, ruling that Javon Wims had thrown a defender into Godwin’s man. A pick play, in other words. That resulted in a third-and-17, and one play later a Rodrigo Blankenship field goal.
So Georgia fans are again upset with a controversial call. But their team does have the lead.
It was the pass on the previous drive. This time it was the tailbacks.
Sony Michel first ran for 18 yards, then he caught a screen pass and went for 32 yards. The Bulldogs, once dominated in total yardage in this game, now have an edge of 171-119. Most of those 171 yards coming on the past two drives, after the Davin Bellamy sack-strip.
Georgia’s offense answers
The momentum has turned and we have a tie game. Jake Fromm hits a wide-open Isaac Nauta in the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown – after a pass interference penalty on Auburn. And after some big pass plays to Mecole Hardman.
Hardman had a third-down catch for 15 yards, catching the ball near his knees as he arrived on the sideline. One play later Jim Chaney dialed up a first-down pass, and a streaking Hardman was open over the middle for a 34-yard gain down to the 20.
Very good passes by Fromm, who has started the game 6-for-7 for 72 yards.
This all followed the Davin Bellamy sack-and-strip, and Georgia pounced on its first real momentum of the game.
Georgia’s first big play
Davin Bellamy sacks and strips Jarrett Stidham, and Roquan Smith recovers the fumble at the UGA 16. So the first turnover of the game goes to UGA, and it’s a big one.
At minimum, Auburn doesn’t get a field goal out of the trip. And it shifts momentum in a big way to the Bulldogs.
A costly and controversial call
Jonathan Lebdetter is called for roughing the passer on a play that was set to lead to third-and-very long for Auburn. Ledbetter had rushed Stidham on a flea-flicker and Stidham had thrown it away, resulting in an intentional grounding call.
But the referee called roughing the passer, apparently ruling that Ledbetter strong-armed Stidham to the neck or head area while the quarterback was on the ground.
The Georgia crowd, given a chance to see the replay, clearly did not agree. And from up here it’s certainly a questionable call.
John Atkins injured
Georgia senior nose tackle John Atkins came up limping on the game’s opening drive and has not returned to the game. Julian Rochester has been occupying the middle in his place.
Atkins has been on the sideline and walking around, and I didn’t see the medical tent go up. So those are at least hopeful signs.
Atkins has been a dependable and important part of Georgia’s interior run defense this season. Clearly that would be a loss if he can’t return.
Auburn’s pressure returns
Two sacks on one series, and Georgia has to punt after initially crossing midfield on its opening drive.
The first sack came on a first-down safety blitz by ex-Georgia safety Tray Matthews. (It was Matthews’ first career sack.) Then on third-and-long Dontavious Russell beat Isaiah Wynn and decked Fromm, forcing a punt.
Wynn giving up a sack is not a great sign for the offensive line, which gave up four sacks the first time – but none were the fault of their senior left tackle.
As Georgia came off the field after the second sack, left guard Kendall Baker turned and clapped towards the Auburn players, as if to say: “Good job there, but just wait.”
UPDATE: Georgia went three-and-out on its next series.
Auburn goes right down and scores, with Jarrett Stidham hitting receiver Nate Craig-Myers on a slant pass on third-and-goal from the 8. So there were two critical third-down busts by the Georgia secondary on that drive, the first one being the penalty on Deandre Baker, which otherwise would have forced Auburn into a game opening three-and-out.
The only positive for Georgia: If it’s trying to flip the script in the rematch it just did, as it was the Bulldogs who opened the first game with a touchdown on the first drive of the game.
Auburn has also opened previous regular-season games against Georgia with game-opening touchdowns, then ended up losing. So … there’s that.
After all that …
… Hullaballoo about Kirby Smart complaining to the SEC about Auburn’s secondary holding in the first game, the first penalty of this game is … on Georgia’s secondary.
Deandre Baker was called for pass interference, and it was a potentially critical penalty, extending Auburn’s drive on what would have been a third-down incompletion.
And then Georgia was penalized again, this time for 12 men on the field, after an Auburn first down run that netted nothing. So Georgia beginning this game by committing critical penalties.
Kerryon Johnson starts
We’ll see how much Johnson ends up playing and how effective he is. But the star Auburn tailback, who accounted for more than 200 yards rushing and receiving in the first match-up is out there as Auburn begins with the ball.
The crowd split
Georgia definitely has more fans here, which is expected, but it’s not a full-force home game.
Auburn appears to have about 40 percent of the crowd, a few of us on press row here estimated, partially based on colors of jerseys in the stands, and the roars as each team came out of the tunnel.
SEC Championship live updates, score for Georgia-Auburn game
Georgia 0, Auburn 0
What day is the SEC Championship Game for the Georgia-Auburn game?
The SEC Championship Game will be played on Saturday in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. This will be the first time that the SEC Championship Game will be in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
What time is the Georgia-Auburn game?
The SEC Championship Game between Georgia-Auburn is set for a 4 p.m. kickoff.
What TV Channel is the Georgia-Auburn game on?
The SEC Championship Game will air on CBS. Brad Nessler and Gary Danielson will be calling the game.
Can I watch the Georgia-Auburn game online?
Yes, you can live stream the SEC Championship Game via the CBS Sports app.
SEC Championship Game 2017 preview
Auburn enters the game perhaps as the hottest and best team in the nation. Twice this season the Tigers have knocked off the No. 1 team in the country, beating Georgia earlier in the year and then beating Alabama last week 26-14. Auburn does have 2 losses but those seem like distant memories given the way the team is playing.
The Tigers are led by quarterback Jarrett Stidham who leads the SEC in completion percentage with a 68.5 mark and a 16-to-4 touchdown to interception ratio. The Tigers also have a star running back in Kerryon Johnson, and despite picking up an injury in the Iron Bowl, will play for Auburn. Johnson is second in the SEC in rushing and rushing touchdowns with 1,276 yards and 17 scores. Auburn also has the No. 3 scoring defense in the conference and the SEC’s No. 2 pass rusher in terms of sacks in the form of defensive end Jeff Holland.
As for Georgia, it is led by the one-two rushing attack of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Chubb is fourth in the SEC in rushing with 1,098 yards, just ahead of Michel’s 903 yards. Both running backs have 13 touchdowns on the year. The Bulldogs are quarterbacked by Jake Fromm who took over for Jacob Eason when he was injured in the first game of the season and hasn’t looked back. The defense is No. 2 in the SEC in points allowed per game, surrendering just 13.8 per game. Georgia has one of the best linebackers in the country in junior Roquan Smith.
Auburn did win the earlier matchup between these two teams, crushing the Bulldogs at home 40-17. Johnson was a monster in that game, rushing for 167 rushing yards.