ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart got right to the point on Monday, Auburn is next, and the Tigers concern him.
“It’s a rivalry game, so many of our kids were recruited by them and vice versa,” said Smart, himself a Montgomery, Ala., native who played his high school football in Bainbridge, Ga., before his two-time All-SEC playing career at Georgia.
“It’s always a rivalry game, and I think that a big part of that is being at your best when you best is needed.”
The No. 6-ranked Bulldogs (expected to move up to No. 5 when the CFB Playoff rankings are released Tuesday) are more than a two-touchdown favorite over Auburn (6-3, 3-3 SEC) in the 7 p.m. Saturday game at Sanford Stadium.
Games are played on grass, not paper, however, and Smart sees plenty of challenges for Georgia (8-1, 6-1).
“When you look at them defensively, they’re loaded up front, they’ve got a lot of big guys, they’ve got a lot of players who play a lot of snaps, (and) I mean they’re experienced across the board,” Smart said.
Auburn has allowed only five rushing TDs this season, tied for the third-fewest in the nation and have held six of eight opponents without a rushing touchdown.
“Offensively, I think every time you play one of Gus Malzahn’s offenses, it’s time consuming, it’s frustrating,” Smart said. “He does a lot of misdirections. They come right at you and hit you in the mouth like they did last year. They’ve got really good skill players to take shots with, and they do a great job on special teams, always have.”
The teams split last season’s matchups. Auburn pounded Georgia by a 40-17 count in Jordan-Hare Stadium during the regular season, going on a 40-3 run at one point in the game.
The Bulldogs avenged that defeat in the SEC Championship Game with a 28-7 victory.
Georgia football coach Kirby Smart
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