Gunning for a second SEC title in four years, the No. 7 Auburn Tigers enter the final two-game gauntlet of their season on Saturday, hosting the No. 25 Georgia Bulldogs at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Another win for the hard-rushing Tigers and quarterback Nick Marshall sets up a monumental showdown in two weeks against No. 1 Alabama for a shot at the conference title game.
But first they’ll have to deal with a rival Georgia team averaging more than 35 points a game despite key offensive players like running back Keith Marshall and receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley sidelined for the rest of the season.
Dubbed the “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, the all-time series is knotted at 54-54-8, but the Bulldogs have won six of the last seven games.
The 6-3 Bulldogs still have a shot at the title game, needing a win over the Tigers and next week against Kentucky, and for Missouri to lose its final two games of the season.
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Marshall along with fourth ranked SEC running back Tre Mason power the nation’s third best rushing attack with over 320 yards per game. The duo combined for 331 rushing yards and five touchdowns in last week’s 55-23 blowout over Tennessee, while attempting just seven pass plays.
Should Marshall decide to take to the air he’ll have receiver Sammie Coates on the other end of his passes. The Tigers propensity to rush hasn’t limited the sophomore’s production as he’s eighth in the conference with 64.8 yards per game, and tops with 24.9 yards per catch.
Georgia’s defensive frontline has accounted for 26 sacks, second only to Missouri in the SEC, and defensive ends Ray Drew and Garrison Smith will be charged with containing Auburn’s offense.
The injuries notwithstanding, the Georgia offense poses a major threat to Auburn’s title hopes. Starting the year as a favorite to snag the Heisman, quarterback Aaron Murray has still played at a very high level, ranking second in the SEC in passing yards per game and tied for second with 20 touchdowns.
Then there’s running back Todd Gurley, who has gained 175 yards and two touchdowns in the last two Bulldog victories since he missed three straight games with an ankle injury.
The Tigers will send out the country’s No. 21 ranked defense that’s allowed 20.4 points per game, and stymied opponent’s drives with a 34 percent third down rate. Defensive end Dee Ford has tallied seven sacks and defensive back Robenson Therezie is tied for the SEC-lead with four interceptions this season.
Betting Odds: Auburn is favored by 3.5 points
Over/Under: 64 points
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Watch Online: CBS Sports online here
Prediction: Auburn 24, Georgia 20