No. 1 Georgia is chasing the lofty goal to become college football's first three-peat national champion since World World II, and that chase continues on Saturday as the Bulldogs take a road trip to meet rival Auburn. This game should provide a much different test for the Dawgs after an easy 49-21 win in Week 4 over UAB. Carson Beck might have been in just his third start at quarterback for the champs, but he looked in complete control of the offense with 338 yards and three touchdowns through the air.
On the other side, the Tigers are in a rough spot. The offense was almost nonexistent in the 27-10 loss to Texas A&M. Coach Hugh Freeze was forced to play three quarterbacks -- Payton Thorne, Robby Ashford and Holden Geriner -- in an attempt to find any semblance of offense. Meanwhile, the defense, led by linebacker Eugene Asante, has done everything it can possibly can to keep the Tigers in games.
What will go down Saturday afternoon on The Plains? Let's break down the matchup and make picks straight up and against the spread.
How to watch Georgia vs. Auburn live
Date: Saturday, Sept. 30 | Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Jordan-Hare Stadium -- Auburn, Alabama
TV: CBS | Live stream: CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free)
Streaming on Paramount+ with Showtime (Try It Free)
Georgia vs. Auburn: Need to know
Quarterback conundrum: Rocket scientists would probably have a hard time dissecting what the Auburn Tigers should do at quarterback, which makes it nearly impossible for Freeze. The Auburn coach plans to hit the reset button this week and go with the same plan that he had for the opener: Thorne as his starter and Ashford as the changeup option.
"We're still kind of wading through that, but that's probably where we'll land this week also," said Freeze on Monday.
The word 'probably' is doing a lot of work in that quote. Auburn's offense is never supposed to belast week when it managed only 200 yards and 3.3 yards per play. It'll be fascinating to see which buttons Freeze pushes if Plan A doesn't work out.
The battle in the trenches: Auburn's offensive line was dismantled by Texas A&M last week, giving up 15 tackles for loss and seven sacks in the loss. The knee-jerk reaction heading into this game is to assume that things are going to get worse before they get better. Well, maybe not.
Georgia is last in the SEC and tied for 113th nationally in sacks (5), and it is tied for ninth in tackles for loss (22). Sure, several of the starters have been pulled early in the second half in three of their four games, but the same can be said for a lot of other teams with more success behind the line of scrimmage. This could be a feast-or-famine type game for Georgia. If its statistical weakness (by Georgia standards) isn't fixed, Auburn's defense is fully capable of keeping the Tigers in the game into the fourth quarter.
Beck's road debut: Jordan-Hare Stadium is widely regarded as one of the most difficult places to play in the country. It's not the easiest place for Beck to make his first road start, but Smart is confident heading into Saturday afternoon's showdown.
"That's something that we're going to find out. I don't think you know," Smart said. "I think he's been through some ups and downs. He's certainly been against good defenses like Auburn has. He goes against our guys. It's different when it's live. So you gotta find out how he responds to that, and I'm very confident in Carson's ability to communicate, to understand things. He's been in our system. You know, you only get good at these situational football things by playing football for a long time. And he's been with us for a while doing it. This is his first chance to do it on the road."
Beck hasn't shown any signs of panic during his short career as a starter. We'll see if that changes in a hostile environment.
Georgia vs. Auburn prediction, picks
Odds via SportsLine consensus
Georgia is catching Auburn at exactly the right time. The Tigers offense would have trouble moving the ball against air, much less 11 ultra-talented Bulldogs. Smart won't feel threatened by anything Auburn does on offense, so expect offensive coordinator Mike Bobo to be extremely conservative in order to prevent Auburn's defense from making big plays that can keep the Tigers in the game. The Bulldogs will wear down that defense and pad some stats in the fourth quarter Pick: Georgia -14.5
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