Top 20 SEC Showdown
Behind a three-game winning streak, Georgia has moved another step closer to playing in the SEC title game. Auburn, meanwhile, still hopes to represent the West Division in the conference championship.
The 10th-ranked Bulldogs and No. 18 Tigers both seek to build on their recent strong play when the teams renew their rivalry and meet for the 111th time on Saturday.
Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Georgia -2 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday's game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 68% of bets for this game have been placed on Georgia -2 (View College Football bet percentages).
Georgia (7-2, 4-2) has won three straight - including two over East Division opponents Vanderbilt and Florida - to bounce back from an Oct. 6 loss at No. 22 Tennessee that nearly hampered its chance for a third SEC championship in six years.
The Bulldogs lead the East by one-half game over both the Volunteers and Gators, but would lose a tiebreaker with Tennessee if both teams win their respective remaining conference games. Georgia hosts No. 24 Kentucky and visits Georgia Tech to end the season.
"It's great to be in this position this time of the year," Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said. "When we play Saturday ... in essence we're still playing for the opportunity to win the Eastern Division."
Georgia, seeking its first four-game win streak since taking five in a row last Sept. 2-30, defeated Troy 44-34 at home last Saturday behind the efforts of redshirt freshman Knowshon Moreno. He rushed for a career-high 196 yards and had three touchdown runs for a second straight week to lead the Bulldogs to their fourth consecutive home win.
Moreno has 1,003 yards and nine touchdowns to join former Georgia star Herschel Walker as the only freshmen in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Moreno also became Georgia's first 1,000-yard rusher since Musa Smith in 2002.
"We're starting to play better," Richt said. "We're starting to block better. That's the big key. When you start to give the running back a little more space, that makes a big difference."
Moreno - named the SEC freshman of the week for the third time this year - is the third-leading rusher in the conference, averaging 111.4 yards per game. It might be hard for Moreno to repeat his performance this weekend, though, as senior Thomas Brown could return from a collarbone injury.
Brown, who hasn't played since the loss to the Volunteers, has 413 yards and six touchdowns in six games.
"Thomas is coming right along," Richt said. "He's definitely got a chance to play in this one. I think he's motivated to. We're going to start working him this week as if he's got a shot."
Neither running back will have an easy time against an Auburn defense that ranks 24th in the nation against the run, allowing opponents to gain 114.0 yards per contest.
Auburn held Tennessee Tech to 304 total yards in a 35-3 home victory last weekend.
The Tigers, who also surrendered three points in a win over Mississippi the previous week, have kept opponents to seven points or fewer in four of their last five games, struggling only in a 30-24 loss at No. 2 LSU on Oct. 20.
Auburn ranks 10th in pass defense - holding opponents to 179.8 yards per game - and will be looking to contain Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford, who completed 17 of 29 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns last week.
Auburn, which has won six of its last seven, concludes its regular season against rival Alabama on Nov. 24. If Auburn and SEC West leader LSU each win their remaining two conference games, Auburn would lose the tiebreaker and a shot at the title.
"Those two games are going to make or break our season," Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox said after he went 9-for-11 for 167 yards and a TD in last week's win.
Auburn, which last won the conference in 2004, hopes it has the edge over Georgia this weekend. The Tigers hold an 18-9 advantage in Athens and have won six of the last seven meetings in Georgia.
Auburn also leads the overall series 53-49 with eight ties, but fell 37-15 at home to the Bulldogs last Nov. 11.
Georgia, which has won five of six at home this season, last won back-to-back meetings with Auburn in 2002 and '03.
"We're heading into our 10th game with most of our goals still in front of us, and that's a good thing," Richt said. "We need an excellent week of practice, with all of our focus on a very good Auburn team."
by: Staff Writers - Email Us
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