The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry is the nickname given to the Auburn verse Georgia football game. It started in 1892 at Piedmont Park in Atlanta, GA. Since that time, there have been 120 games played with Georgia leading the series 57-55-8. In the last 25 meetings, the home team has won 10 games. Georgia has won five of the last six meetings, the last two of those by one possession. So you can see why this rivalry is appropriately named what it is. Former Auburn Coach and Georgia player, Pat Dye said, “It’s a unique thing. It’s like playing against your brother. I don’t think anybody who plays in that game can ever forget it. It just doesn’t matter much where it’s played or what somebody’s record is. It’s so intense and tough, but at the same time, it’s family”. Georgia came into the game as the number one ranked team in the nation. They were playing a number ten-ranked team in the nation that mirrored them. Both teams had solid defenses and bolstered a great running game. Freshman quarterback Jack Fromm, who has been playing great, was leading Georgia into a hostile environment. Since taking over for quarterback Jacob Eason, Fromm and Georgia have never trailed in a football game since earlier this year verse Notre Dame. Auburn’s offense has finally found its rhythm the last couple of games with running back Kerryon Johnson. They are averaging over 236 yards a game on the ground. Something had to give in this 121st meeting.
Something definitely gave! It was Auburn with a complete domination of the game in all phases. Georgia started the game with an opening 70-yard touchdown drive and took an early 7-0 lead. The defensive coaches settled the team down and explained it would be a long game. It seemed that Auburn was trading touchdowns for field goals, and that would come back to hurt them. Their 16-7 lead at halftime still had the feeling of a classic matchup that would go down to the wire. Auburn held Georgia to just 35 yards on its final six first-half possessions.
Auburn decided to erase all doubt with touchdown after touchdown in the second half, until it was 40-7 late in the fourth quarter. That’s when the defense began dancing during a timeout to the “Crank That Soulja Boy”. It was team petty for Auburn. They waited 10 years for this moment. In 2007, Georgia was blowing Auburn out and they were playing in all black for the “blackout” game. During the end of the game, they played the Soulja Boy song and began dancing on their way to a 45-20 victory. It’s safe to say, Auburn didn’t forget. This time Auburn blew them out 40-17.
Auburn’s front seven put on a clinic, making the Georgia running attack of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel look like pound puppies. They entered the game averaging 185 yards per game and 6.9 yards per attempt. They finished the game with only 48 yards rushing on 20 carries. The Auburn defense held Georgia to a grand total of 230 yards. Kevin Steele, defensive coach for Auburn, was more than pleased with how his guys responded. He said, “It starts with we want to be a great effort team; we want to be physically and mentally tough and we want to tackle well. All those things were very evident in (Saturday) night’s game. We also challenged them that we’d been a good defense, but at some point in time you got to take the next step and go from good to really good to play like an elite defense. They took that challenge very seriously, I think.” And great they were, Steele recalled that they probably only missed about five tackles in the game.
Head Coach Guz Malzahn was impressed with the defense but was just as pleased with the offense. Auburn picked apart a Georgia defense that was among the best in the nation. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham had three touchdown passes, and Johnson had 167 yards rushing and a touchdown on a 55-yard fourth-quarter screen pass that sealed the victory. Malzahn said, “Give them credit, they’re a good team. They’ve trashed everybody else they’ve played up front, and their running backs have run wild through pretty good defenses. That’s big-time against that bunch. Because they can run the football. We whipped the dog crap out of them, didn’t we?”
Yup coach they did. Now Auburn is in the best position to crash the college football playoffs. They have beaten the number one team in nation in Georgia and have already blown out a ranked team in Mississippi State. They have a close loss to Clemson on the road. The only other blemish, is a loss to LSU on the road. This will linger because they were up 20-0 in the game. If Auburn can beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl and beat Georgia again in the rematch in the SEC Championship, they can make a very compelling case for the first ever two-loss team to get a playoff spot. There is still a lot of football to be played, but the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry is definitely what college football is all about. 57-56-8!