AUBURN — Georgia coach Kirby Smart and his program are headed back to the SEC Championship Game, clinching the East Division with a stirring 21-14 win over Auburn.
The No. 4-ranked Bulldogs (9-1, 6-1 SEC) needed late-game stops to hold off the No. 12 Tigers (7-3, 4-3) at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Georgia freshman Travon Walker sacked Auburn freshman QB Bo Nix on fourth down on the Tigers’ last-gasp drive. The Bulldogs took over at the Auburn 22 with 1:39 left and ran out the clock, the Tigers out of timeouts.
Georgia had built a 21-0 lead, dominating the first three quarters before Auburn stormed back.
Quarterback Jake Fromm was 13-of-28 passing for 106 yards and three TD passes.
Dominick Blaylock struck first with a 51-yard TD reception in the first quarter, and Brian Herrien scored on a 5-yard TD pass with 20 seconds left before halftime.
Tennessee transfer Eli Wolf scored the final TD for the Bulldogs on a 5-yard pass with 13 seconds left in the third quarter.
Nix, 30-for-50 passing for 245 yards and a TD, came to life in the final quarter. The freshman legacy was 13-of-20 passing for 123 yards in the fourth quarter alone.
Auburn ran 86 plays — the most any team has run against Smart at Georgia — and out-gained the Bulldogs 329-251.
Georgia played most all of the game without its leading receiver, Lawrence Cager, who aggravated a shoulder injury in the first quarter.
It was the first time Gus Malzahn lost a game after a bye week (9-1).
Georgia 21, Auburn 14, 7:03: Bo Nix 2-yard run (Anders Carlson kick). Drive: 5 plays, 57 yards, 1:08. Key play: Seth Williams 24-yard catch on first-and-10 to Georgia 33.
Georgia 21, Auburn 7, 10:04: Eli Stove 3-yard pass from Bo Nix (Anders Carlson kick). Drive: 12 plays, 75 yards, 5:09. Key play: Georgia pass interference penalty on fourth-and-5 at Georgia 9-yard line.
Georgia 21, Auburn 0, 0:13: Eli Wolf 5-yard pass from Jake Fromm (Rodrigo Blankenship kick). Drive: 12 plays, 88 yards, 6:27. Key play: Demetris Robertson 13-yard catch on third-and-4 at Auburn 28.
Injury update: Brian Herrien (knee) helped off after horse collar tackle by Auburn’s Marlon Davidson, 4:59.
Attendance announced: 87,451
Injury Update: No Lawrence Cager (shoulder) on opening drive of second half
Georgia’s second TD play was well-designed by James Coley, the Bulldogs coming out in a Power-I look with Cade Mays in the backfield on a third-and-1 at the 5, then shifting into an I with Eli Wolf and Brian Herrien in the backfield. Fromm faked a handoff to draw the defense in and threw to Herrien in the flats, who lunged into the end zone.
Lawrence Cager started and has one catch for 6 yards but has not been seen on the field much
Trey Hill started at center and has played the first half. This is only the fourth time UGA’s starting offensive line has been intact. The Bulldogs are 4-0 in this season.
Gus Malzahn is 9-0 after bye weeks as Auburn’s head coach; Kirby Smart is 0-3 in true road games vs. SEC West
First Half QB comparison
Jake Fromm 9-of-18 for 91 yards, 2 TDs; Bo Nix 14-of-25, 115 yards
Georgia 14, Auburn 0, 0:20: Brian Herrien 5-yard catch from Jake Fromm. Drive: 7 plays, 81 yards, 59 seconds. Key play: D’Andre Swift 26-yard run to Auburn 14.
Play Update: Jeremaine Johnson strips QB Bo Nix on run, Richard LeCounte recovers at Georgia 37, 3:18
Disqualification Update: Otis Reese ejected for targeting on punt return, 6:09.
Injury Update: Wyatt returns to game.
Injury Update: Georgia stops Auburn on fourth-and-1 at UGA 37, David Marshall stops JaTarvious Whitlow in backfield, minus 13.
Injury Update: Georgia DT Devonte Wyatt helped from field (right knee), 11:56
Georgia 7, Auburn 0, 5:56: Dominick Blaylock 51-yard catch from Jake Fromm. Drive: 3 plays, 61 yards, 1:22. Key play: Brian Herrien 5-yard run on second-down.
Note: Jake Camarda 67-yard punt after UGA first possession downed at Auburn 2, flips field .
Georgia wins the toss, will defer. Auburn gets the ball first UGA captains Jake Fromm, D’Andre Swift and J.R. Reed.
UPDATE: Georgia center Trey Hill is out of the tunnel snapping the ball to Jake Fromm. Hill was knocked out of the game vs. Missouri last Saturday with a sprained left ankle.
AUBURN, Ala. — The Georgia football version of “playoffs” continues at Jordan-Hare Stadium against Auburn on Saturday afternoon.
Bulldogs’ tailback D’Andre Swift said after the 20-17 overtime loss to South Carolina on Oct. 12 that the playoff mentality would be in full effect, and that’s certainly the case in the “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry” in the 3:40 p.m. kickoff. (TV: CBS).
Coach Kirby Smart is looking to secure a place in history and match Steve Spurrier as the only coaches to win three straight SEC East Division crowns. A win over the Tigers or a Florida loss would clinch that feat.
“You’re going to be measured by your last outing,” Smart said this week. “No matter what they’ve done, they’ll be judged by how they do this Saturday.”
First things first, the Bulldogs will need to break through against a Tigers’ defensive front that has ranked among the hardest to run through in the SEC, per advanced metrics.
The SEC’s most successful rush defenses against SEC offenses per Success Rate entering Week 12:
— SEC StatCat (@SEC_StatCat) November 16, 2019
Smart said on his radio show on Thursday that Auburn is the best defense the Bulldogs will have seen this season.
“They are like us, they play over and 3-4, they vary it, they mix it up on you so you don’t get a bead on what they are doing,” Smart said. “They don’t have to do a lot, it’s not like they are the most complicated defense.
“They line up and physically strike you. They don’t care if you know what they are in, they make you beat them.”
The Auburn offensive is also a challenge, but Smart explained in that case it is because of the variety the Tigers can do.
“They’re going to make plays, we’re not going to go over there and shut them down,” Smart said. “We’re going to go over there and play really hard and adjust to what they give us and try to make them adjust to what we do.”
Pregame reads from Auburn