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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:56 AM

Georgia at Auburn

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No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs at No. 12 Auburn Tigers

Venue/Location: Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, Alabama
Time/TV: Saturday, Nov. 16, 3:30 p.m. ET
Line: Georgia -3, Total 41.5

All eyes from across the nation Saturday will be on Jordan-Hare Stadium, where Auburn will play host to Georgia in a crucial contest with College Football Playoff ramifications for a slew of schools from Oregon to Utah and beyond. In fact, Auburn’s bitter in-state rival, Alabama, needs the Tigers to win as much as anyone.

As of late Friday afternoon, most books had Georgia (8-1 straight up, 5-4 against the spread) installed as a three-point road favorite with a total of 41. The Tigers were +130 on the money line.

UGA is ranked fourth in the latest CFP rankings, one spot ahead of Alabama. The Bulldogs are 2-0 both SU and ATS on the road. Kirby Smart’s club won 30-6 at Vanderbilt in its season opener, and it won 43-14 at Tennessee back on Oct. 5.

Georgia has won three consecutive games since suffering its lone defeat to South Carolina. The Gamecocks went into Athens as 21-point underdogs on Oct. 12 and won a 20-17 decision in double overtime. Since then, UGA has won vs. Kentucky (21-0), vs. Florida (24-17 in Jacksonville) and vs. Missouri (27-0).

Junior QB Jake Fromm carried his team to victory against the Gators, who stuffed Georgia’s ground attack (holding the Bulldogs to 3.2 yards per carry on 37 attempts) but couldn’t buy a stop on third down. Thanks to his poise in the pocket and an outstanding effort from his offensive line, Fromm helped the Bulldogs convert 12-of-18 third-down attempts.

The Houston County HS product from Warner Robbins, GA., completed 20-of-30 passes for 279 yards and two TDs without an interception vs. UF. Lawrence Cager hauled in seven receptions for 132 yards and one TD.

Smart’s team caught a big break last week when Missouri senior QB Kelly Bryant was unable to play between the hedges due to a hamstring injury. The UGA defense limited Mizzou to 198 yards of total offense, and the Bulldogs won 27-0 as 19-point home ‘chalk.’

Fromm completed 13-of-29 passes for 173 yards and two TDs without an interception. Cager had six catches for 93 yards, while George Pickens had five receptions for 67 yards and two TDs. D’Andre Swift ran for 83 yards on 12 totes.

For the season, Fromm has connected on 67.0 percent of his passes for 1,858 yards with a 13/3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Fromm hasn’t thrown an interception to anyone not named Israel Mukuamu, the South Carolina cornerback who picked Fromm off three times.

Cager has 32 receptions for 470 yards and four TDs, while Pickens has 29 catches for 389 yards and four TDs. Demetris Robertson has caught 20 balls for 229 yards and three TDs, and Dominick Blaylock has 12 grabs for 209 yards and two TDs.

Swift has 921 rushing yards, seven TDs and a 6.3 yards-per-carry average. Brian Herrien has run for 366 yards and five TDs, averaging 5.2 YPC.

Georgia is ranked fifth in the nation in total defense, 17th at defending the pass, fourth in run defense and second in scoring ‘D,’ allowing merely 10.1 points per game.

Auburn (7-2 SU, 7-2 ATS) is unbeaten in four home games with a 3-1 spread record this year. Gus Malzahn’s club is off a 20-14 non-covering home win over Ole Miss as a 17-point favorite. The Tigers were off last week and have had two weeks to prepare for the Bulldogs.

They enjoyed a healthy 507-266 advantage over the Rebels in total offense, but kicker Anders Carlson missed three field goals. True freshman QB Bo Nix completed 30-of-44 passes for 340 yards, and he also ran for a TD. Another true freshman, RB D.J. Williams, ran for 93 yards and one score on 24 carries. Anthony Schwartz had nine catches for 89 yards.

Auburn started the season 5-0 both SU and ATS, producing quality wins vs. Oregon (27-21 at Jerry World in Arlington, TX.), vs. Tulane (24-6) and at Texas A&M (28-20). The Tigers forced four turnovers and stopped a fake punt at Florida on Oct. 5, but Nix threw three interceptions and the Gators handed them their first defeat by a 24-13 count.

Auburn’s only other loss came at unbeaten and top-ranked LSU, which won 23-20 but failed to cover the number as an 11.5-point home favorite. The biggest lead of the game either way was four points until Joe Burrow scored on a seven-yard TD scamper with 13:29 remaining. Auburn trimmed the deficit to three when Nix found Seth Williams for a five-yard scoring strike with 2:32 left, but the Bayou Bengals didn’t give the ball back the rest of the way.

Nix has been up and down, which is to be expected from any true freshman starting at QB in the SEC. He’s been better at home, throwing four TD passes without an interception. For the season, Nix has completed 56.5 percent of his throws for 1,798 yards with a 12/6 TD-INT ratio. His stats – 214 rushing yards and five TDs with a 3.1 YPC average – don’t necessarily reflect it, but Nix has speed and can make plays with his legs.

JaTarvious Whitlow was second in the SEC in rushing yards when he injured his knee at Florida. He hasn’t played since then, but he might return vs. UGA. Whitlow, who has a team-best 553 rushing yards, seven TDs and a 4.9 YPC average, is listed as ‘questionable.’

Williams has played in only four games, but he’s taken advantage of that playing time. He had 130 rushing yards on just 13 carries at LSU. Williams has 303 rushing yards, one TD and a 5.5 YPC average.

Nix’s favorite target is WR Seth Williams, who has 35 receptions for 569 yards and eight TDs. Schwartz has 23 catches for 305 yards and one TD, while Eli Stove has caught 27 balls for 247 yards and two TDs. Schwartz also get touches on some gadget plays, rushing for 112 yards and two TDs on eight carries.

Auburn is ranked 28th in the country in total defense, 20th at stopping the run and 13th in scoring ‘D’ (17.4 PPG). The Tigers have two of the country’s top pass rushers in Marlon Davidson and Derrick Brown. Davidson missed the Ole Miss game with a lower-back injury and is listed as ‘questionable,’ but he’s undoubtedly going to give it a go Saturday. It’s just a matter of how long he can last.

Davidson has 34 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss, three QB hurries and two forced fumbles. Brown has 37 tackles, four sacks, four TFL’s, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, three passes broken up and one QB hurry.

Auburn’s leading tackler, senior safety Jeremiah Dinson, is also listed as ‘questionable’ after sitting out the win over Ole Miss due to an undisclosed injury. Dinson has produced 61 tackles, 2.5 TFL’s, two sacks, one interception, one forced fumble and one PBU.

Georgia starting OG Justin Shaffer is ‘questionable’ with a neck injury. He has missed three consecutive games. Another starter, sophomore CB Tyson Campbell, is listed as ‘questionable’ with a toe injury.

This rivalry doesn’t need any extra vitriol, but it’s certainly there this year. Georgia won a 27-10 decision over Auburn as a 13.5-point home favorite last season. The bigger story, however, at least from the Auburn point of view, was how UGA faked a field goal up by 17 late in the fourth quarter.

It didn’t sit well with players on the Auburn squad, and it’s been a talking point on The Plains all week long. They think it was a disrespectful decision on Smart’s part, and it’s a driving force for the Tigers in their quest for revenge this weekend.

Fromm completed 13-of-20 passes for 193 yards and two TDs with one interception in the 27-10 triumph. Swift ran for 186 yards and one TD on 17 carries.

When these teams met at Auburn in 2017, the Tigers blasted the Bulldogs 40-17 as 2.5-point home underdogs. Kerryon Johnson was the catalyst with 233 yards from scrimmage (167 rushing, 66 receiving). However, Johnson wasn’t 100 percent healthy three weeks later at the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta, where UGA exacted revenge in a 28-7 victory.

The ‘under’ is 5-4 overall for the Tigers, 3-2 in their home games. Their games have averaged combined scores of 50.1 PPG. This is Auburn’s lowest total of the year. The previous high was 47 in a 56-23 home win over Mississippi St.

The ‘under’ is 7-2 overall for UGA, 1-1 in its two road assignments. The Bulldogs have seen the ‘under’ cash in four straight games and six of their past seven. Their games have averaged combined scores of 43.8 PPG. This is UGA’s lowest total of the season, as its previous high was 45.5 points in a 21-0 win vs. Kentucky. The ‘under’ has hit in all three Georgia games that have had a total in the 40s.

The ‘under’ has cashed at a 5-1 clip in the last six games of this rivalry. UGA is 5-1 both SU and ATS in the past six head-to-head meetings.

Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

-- Nation’s Best ATS teams: Ohio State and UL-Lafayette are both 8-1 ATS. Auburn, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Tulane are 7-2 versus the number. Best of the Rest: Navy (6-2), Minnesota (6-2-1) and then Clemson, FAU, CMU, Illinois and Western Kentucky are 7-3 ATS.

-- Nation’s Worst ATS squads: Akron (0-10), UMASS (1-9), Vanderbilt (1-8), Nebraska (1-8), Texas State (1-7), Arkansas (2-8), Ohio (2-8) and FIU (2-8).

-- Ohio State won its appeal of star DE Chase Young’s four-game suspension from the NCAA. The suspension has been reduced to two games, meaning he’ll miss one more game Saturday at Rutgers. Young, who leads the nation in sacks with 13.5, will return for next week’s showdown at The ‘Shoe vs. Penn State.

-- Wake Forest WR Sage Surratt is out for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury. Surratt is the ACC’s leader in receptions (66), receiving yards (1,001) and TD catches with 11. Also, Wake Forest senior WR Scotty Washington is expected to miss a second straight game Saturday at Clemson. Washington has 35 catches for 607 yards and seven TDs.

-- Vanderbilt Riley Neal will return from a concussion Saturday and start at QB vs. Kentucky. Mo Hasan (concussion) is ‘doubtful’ against the Wildcats, who are 10-point road favorites in Nashville. Kentucky WR/QB Lynn Bowden is listed as ‘questionable’ with an undisclosed injury, but he’s expected to play nonetheless. With UK’s hoops team dealing with injuries, there’s been some discussion of Bowden joining John Calipari’s squad. Mark Stoops has given his approval once the football season concludes, so that’s something to keep an eye on in a few weeks. Vandy’s Derek Mason needs a win over the Wildcats in the worst way for his job security.

-- California was 4-0 and in a tight game with Arizona State when QB Chase Garbers went down with a shoulder injury in late September. Garbers, who had an 8/2 TD-INT ratio, has been cleared to return and will start in Saturday’s home game vs. USC. The Golden Bears, who are four-point home underdogs, have gone 6-2 ATS as home ‘dogs during Justin Wilcox’s tenure. They’re 15-6 ATS in 21 games as underdogs at any venue on Wilcox’s watch.

-- Georgia State star QB Dan Ellington is ‘out’ Saturday vs. Appalachian State due to a knee injury. Ellington has carried the Panthers to a 6-3 SU record and a 5-2-2 ATS ledger. The senior signal caller has 1,813 passing yards with an 18/4 TD-INT ratio. Ellington also has 603 rushing yards, five TDs and a 4.8 YPC average.

-- After missing last week’s home loss to USC, Arizona State true freshman QB Jayden Daniels practiced Tuesday and was upgraded to ‘probable’ for Saturday’s game at Oregon State.

-- Florida, a 6.5-point road favorite Saturday at Missouri, has compiled a 4-1 spread record in five games as a road favorite during Dan Mullen’s two-year tenure. Mizzou QB Kelly Bryant (hamstring) was upgraded to ‘probable’ vs. UF late Tuesday, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t note how the Tigers upgraded him to ‘probable’ in the middle of last week’s preparations for UGA. Then on Saturday morning of last week, Bryant was downgrade to ‘doubtful.’ We aren’t implying he’s not ready to go against the Gators, but we won’t depend on Barry Odom for accurate injury information moving forward. Mullen said earlier this week that he’s ‘hopeful’ UF star DE Jabari Zuniga will be ready at Missouri. However, bettors can’t count on that. Zuniga has attempted to return from the ankle injury he suffered at Kentucky in September twice (vs. LSU and vs. UGA), only to suffer setbacks in each instance.

-- Indiana has covered the spread in four consecutive games as a road underdog. The Hoosiers have had two weeks to prep for Saturday’s game at Penn State. The Nittany Lions are in vintage sandwich spot, facing IU one week after a loss to unbeaten Minnesota and one week before playing at undefeated Ohio State. PSU is 18-14-2 ATS in 34 games as a home ‘chalk’ on James Franklin’s watch.

-- Akron fell to 0-10 both straight up and against the spread in Tuesday’s 42-14 loss to Eastern Michigan as a 17-point home underdog. The Eagles covered in the first quarter (-4), first half (-8.5 or 9), for the game and for adjusted sides like -27.5 for a +315 return. The Zips will try to get their first win at Miami (OH.) next Wednesday on Nov. 20. They close the season at home vs. Ohio on Tuesday, Nov. 26. EMU improved to 5-5 SU and 4-5-1 ATS. The Eagles are at No. Illinois next Tuesday and then host Kent State on Friday, Nov. 29.

-- The ‘over’ is 8-2 overall for UMass after cashing in seven of its last eight games. The Minutemen play Saturday at Northwestern, which went into last week with the nation’s worst scoring offense. After producing their second-highest output of the year in a 24-22 home loss to Purdue, the Wildcats allowed Akron to overtake them at No. 130 out of 130 FBS team in scoring offense. Nevertheless, Northwestern has still seen the ‘under’ go 6-3 overall. The Wildcats are 41-point home favorites, and the total is 56. They’ve only scored 35 points in their last five games combined. Their biggest scoring outburst this season came in a 30-14 home win over UNLV in Week 2.

-- Florida State star RB Cam Akers is ‘out’ of Saturday’s home game vs. Alabama State due to an undisclosed injury.

-- Hawaii head coach Nick Rolovich hasn’t named a starter for Saturday’s game at UNLV. The Rainbow Warriors are seven-point road favorites for the Mtn. West showdown at Sam Boyd Stadium. Rolovich benched QB Cole McDonald in favor of redshirt freshman Chevan Cordeiro in last week’s 42-40 home win over San Jose State. Cordeiro responded in his first career start, completing 23-of-31 passes for 309 yards and three TDs. He also ran for 55 yards and a pair of scores. McDonald threw for 3,875 yards with a 36/10 TD-INT ratio in 2018, when he also ran for 359 yards and four TDs. In 2019, McDonald has 2,796 passing yards and a 25/12 TD-INT ratio. He’s also run for 353 yards and four TDs. However, the guess here is that Rolovich sticks with Cordeiro, and Hawaii is in good shape either way because both dudes can perform at a high level.

Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards



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