SEC Championship 2017: Georgia vs. Auburn Breakdown, Predictions

Monday, November 27, 2017

SEC Championship 2017: Georgia vs. Auburn Breakdown, Predictions

The 2017 SEC Championship Game will feature a matchup that the game hasn't seen in its 26 year history when Auburn and Georgia rematch with the conference title on the line. 

The Auburn Tigers crashed the party via its stunning upset win over the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Iron Bowl last week. Gus Malzahn's two-loss team ostensibly has a shot at a College Football Playoff berth with a second win over Georgia. 

The one-loss Bulldogs have the opportunity to avenge their only blemish on the season. Kirby Smart's team was on a clear path to the College Football Playoff before the Tigers handed them a thorough 40-17 loss. A win here would make them hard to deny after making up for their only loss on the season. 

The Tigers will be looking for their first conference championship since 2013, while the Bulldogs are looking to win their first SEC title since 2005. 

Here's a look at the information you'll need to catch the game along with a breakdown of the matchup. 

Date: Saturday, Dec. 2


Time: 4 p.m. ET


Game Preview

These are two teams that are obviously familiar with one another. They just played three weeks ago when the Tigers came away with a lopsided win. 

Auburn put together a near perfect performance in which the offense outgained Georgia 488-230, didn't turn the ball over and didn't trail after the first quarter. While that's still a possibility in the rematch, the oddsmakers don't believe so. Auburn is just a three-point favorite, per OddsShark. 

Some of that is due to Auburn being more banged up than they were in the first game. 

Specifically, the Tigers had a healthy Kerryon Johnson. The running back was the engine that made the Auburn offense go, putting up 167 rushing yards on 32 carries and adding 66 receiving yards on two catches.

As Jay Jacobs, Auburn athletic director, noted, it's something that Johnson has done for the Tigers all season:

A physical game against Alabama comes at a cost, though. Johnson left the game against Alabama with a shoulder injury. His status is still up in the air, and the coaching staff hasn't committed to whether he will be available on Saturday. 

"This late in the season everybody's pretty banged up," offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey said, per Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports. "I think Kerryon will do everything he can to get ready."

Losing Johnson for the game would be a big detriment to the offense, as his success on the ground opens up the play-action passing game. Jarrett Stidham has been playing at a high level, but his ability to make big plays down field has been one of his biggest strengths. 

As PFF College Football noted, Stidham's touchdown passes have been on big plays more often than not:


Without Johnson, Stidham might be asked to do more than he has this season. 

What will be key in this game, however, is how well the Auburn defense will be able to stop the run. The Bulldogs vaunted one-two punch of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel were limited to just 48 yards on 20 carries against the Auburn front. 

The result was a season low 32 carries for the Bulldogs and a reliance on freshman quarterback Jake Fromm to make plays. 

Against Alabama, the Auburn defense struggled to stop the run. Alabama had 209 rushing yards on 37 attempts against the Tigers, but Auburn was able to slow down Jalen Hurts in the passing game en route to only giving up 14 points. 

The front four will once again be vital for Auburn. According to Kevin Steele, Auburn defensive coordinator, he didn't have to bring pressure against Alabama because the defensive line is able to make plays on its own:


That's a lot of confidence in a front that is playing well. The offense might not be as explosive either without Johnson or a hampered version of the star running back, but the Bulldogs will still need to block the same defenders they couldn't a few weeks ago. 

The result should be a much closer battle than the first time around and a game that comes down to the wire, as the team that can establish the ground game will likely come out on top. 

Prediction: Auburn 20, Georgia 16

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