No. 2 Georgia picked up a thorough 34-10 win over No. 18 Auburn in the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry on Saturday afternoon with the Bulldogs' bruising defense holding a sixth straight opponent to one touchdown or fewer this season. Dawgs running back Zamir White rushed for 79 yards and two touchdowns, including one in the fourth quarter that capped off a 10-play drive that broke the will of a Tigers defense hanging on for dear life in the second half.
Georgia's rushing attacked acted as the closer in this one as it racked up 165 yards over the final two frames after entering the half up 17-3. This complemented another impressive performance from the defense, which continues to be lights out this season. Sure, it gave up a third-quarter touchdown to Tank Bigsby -- only the third TD that it has allowed all year -- but it held home-standing Auburn to just 4.4 yards per play and made the hosts work hard for every yard.
Dawgs quarterback Stetson Bennett IV wasn't asked to do much, but he was more than serviceable in the win, completing 14 of 20 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns. Bennett again started in place of JT Daniels, who missed his second straight game with a shoulder injury. A former walk-on, Bennett has consistently shown this season that he is capable of handling business in place of Daniels.
Auburn QB Bo Nix did all that he could to keep his team in the game. The junior completed 21 of 38 passes for 217 yards and an interception, but he didn't get much help from a receiving corps that suffered from countless drops and a rushing attack that couldn't get the offense in favorable down and distances.
Georgia improves to 6-0 (4-0 SEC) on the year with the win, while Auburn falls to 4-2 (1-1 SEC) in its first home conference game of the year.
What are the top takeaways from Saturday afternoon?
'The Mailman' is the real deal
Bennett's reputation as an inspirational story of a player who walked on twice and has the heart of a lion dominates headlines, but that should be a thing of the past. He's a difference-maker, and showed it on Saturday.
Bennett not only was consistent hitting the deep ball, but his 30-yard run late in the third quarter was just another indication that he has what it takes to lead Georgia to the national title. Bennett doesn't have to go out there and be Baker Mayfield or Johnny Manziel. His defense and running game are so strong that they allow Bennett and offensive coordinator Todd Monken to keep the entire offensive playbook in consideration no matter what the situation is.
Make no mistake, defense doesn't win championships anymore. Just enough defense does. But Georgia's defense is so strong that, even on its bad days, it's unlikely that things will get so sideways that Bennett won't be able to hang.
Nix isn't Auburn's problem; it's the offensive line
Quarterbacks always get too much of the praise and too much of the criticism, and Nix is the personification of that. He has been erratic with the football throughout his career, but also has moments of brilliance, like his magic act last weekend at LSU. The truth is that he has to play this way for this particular Auburn team because its offensive line has some major issues. Georgia had six tackles for loss, four sacks and held an Auburn rushing attack led by Tank Bigsby to just 92 sack-adjusted rushing yards.
That's understandable against Georgia considering just how strong its defense is, but Nix has been forced to do this all season long. The Tigers rushed for just 4.55 yards per carry against Penn State last month -- the only other big-time game they've played this year.
When you think about it, the fact that Nix hadn't thrown a pick all year coming into this game is a minor miracle. The first one -- a first-quarter pick by Nakobe Dean -- bounced off of Shaun Shivers and wasn't Nix's fault. Auburn's offensive line has to give its running game a chance which, in turn, will make life much less stressful for Nix.
Take this play as an example. Nix has to turn to his Houdini act because he has a face full of Georgia defensive line from the moment the ball is snapped. That's unacceptable, yet has been happening all year.
Georgia is running the table
Write it down, take a picture and etch it in stone -- Georgia will talk into Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 4 undefeated due in large part to it being the most complete team in the country. The game against Auburn was the biggest hurdle in its way, and it passed the test with flying colors.
Think about it. Georgia has navigated through the quarterback injury, massive wide receiver turnover, several more injuries to receiving threats and a secondary that's been banged up with relative ease. Saturday's game at Jordan-Hare Stadium was the most hostile atmosphere that the Bulldogs have faced since 2019 when you consider that last season's loss at Alabama came in a stadium with limited capacity.
Looking ahead, Kentucky's offense has been wildly inconsistent even though the Wildcats entered this weekend undefeated, and it's impossible to trust Florida quarterback Emory Jones at this point.