Georgia vs. Auburn score, takeaways: No. 2 Dawgs obliterate Tigers in second half as Stetson Bennett stars
The Bulldogs suffocated the Tigers for their sixth straight win in the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry
No. 2 Georgia bounced back from some lackluster performances the past few weeks and cruised to an easy 42-10 win over Auburn at Sanford Stadium in the 2022 edition of the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry. The Bulldogs hardly needed to break a sweat as the Auburn offense was suffocated from start to finish. The reigning national champions took advantage of some questionable decisions and short fields in the first half to build a lead, and then leaned on Auburn in the second half until it broke for good.
The key moment in the game came late in the first quarter. Auburn coach Bryan Harsin was trying to light a spark in his offense, and it was hard to blame him. With the Tigers facing a fourth down in their own territory and having already punted on their first three possessions, Harsin called for a fake punt. It was the kind of decision a coach makes when they know playing "straight up" isn't going to work because their team is outclassed. Unfortunately, when it backfires, it's hard to recover.
Georgia took advantage of the short field for its first touchdown of the day three plays later to take a 7-0 lead, and it turned out to be the game-winner. Georgia would have another short field in the second quarter after a 38-yard Ladd McConkey punt return set them up to make it 14-0.
Auburn's lone chance to make it a game came in the third quarter. Auburn's Colby Wooden sacked Stetson Bennett and knocked the ball loose early in the second half. Wooden recovered the fumble and set the Tigers offense up inside the Georgia 20. The Georgia defense held Auburn to a field goal afterward, though, and then the offense went 81 yards on the next possession to make it a 21-3 game.
Auburn didn't have much of a chance after that. When Bennett broke free for a career-long 64-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter, it was a wrap. Georgia improves to 5-0 on the season and 3-0 in the SEC while Auburn drops to 3-3 and 1-2 in the SEC.
Here are the primary takeaways from the latest installment of The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry.
1. Georgia was much better in the red zone today
There's been a lot made of Georgia's struggles the last couple of weeks against Kent State and Missouri, and rightfully so. The Bulldogs looked nothing like the dominant force that won a national title last year, nor like the team that opened the season with a blowout of Oregon. A big part of those struggles was Georgia's inability to finish drives.
Through its first three games this season, Georgia scored touchdowns on 14 of its 20 red-zone possessions, including 11 in 12 possessions against Oregon and South Carolina. Against Kent State and Missouri, it managed only five touchdowns in 11 possessions.
Against Auburn, the Dawgs returned to finishing drives, scoring touchdowns on all five red-zone possessions. They did so thanks mostly to a rushing attack Auburn couldn't stop in the second half. Freshman Branson Robinson led the Dawgs with 98 yards rushing on 12 carries with a touchdown, but Daijun Edwards was the true star. Edwards rushed for 83 yards and three touchdowns while Kenny McIntosh and Bennett contributed rushing touchdowns of their own.
Georgia rushed for 292 yards and six touchdowns as a team, averaging 7.5 yards per carry.
2. Georgia still needs more in its passing offense
The Dawgs are missing AD Mitchell and Arian Smith but need somebody to step up. Auburn's defense did a good job of taking Brock Bowers out of play, and Georgia didn't have other answers. Ladd McConkey led the team with five catches for 47 yards, but, with all due respect to McConkey, he's not the guy who should be your leading receiver -- not when you're trying to win a national title. McConkey is more of a complementary piece than a focal point.
Of course, some of this falls on Bennett, who has struggled to push the ball downfield. Bennett had the 64-yard touchdown run to put this game out of reach but finished with only 208 yards passing on 32 pass attempts. Of his 208 yards, 111 came after the catch.
3. Auburn isn't built for third-and-long
Ashford is not a strong passing quarterback yet. He's far more of a threat with his legs, which makes it vital for the Auburn offense to stay on schedule. That was easier said than done against Georgia in this game. Auburn managed only 258 yards of offense and averaged a paltry 4.1 yards per play.
More importantly, it couldn't keep drives going, converting only five of their 17 third downs. In defense, it's hard to convert third downs when you need an average of 8.1 yards on each of them. Teams with running quarterbacks aren't going to convert a lot of third-and-8s.
4. Robby Ashford ended a 13-year drought
Ashford threw a short pass to Jarquez Hunter in the fourth quarter, and Hunter dodged a couple of tacklers and took off for a 62-yard touchdown. Considering it cut the lead to 35-10, it wasn't the most impactful play, but there was one aspect of it that stood out.
Ashford became the first Auburn QB to throw a touchdown pass at Sanford Stadium since Chris Todd threw a 31-yard touchdown to Terrell Zachery in the first quarter of Auburn's 31-24 loss to Georgia in 2009. It'd been a while!
5. Strong chance this was Bryan Harsin's final game
Harsin entered the season on the hot seat, and his firing has always felt inevitable. With Auburn blowing a 17-0 lead to LSU last week and getting blown out by rival Georgia this week, now seems like a good time.
FINAL: Georgia 42, Auburn 10
Carson Beck in at QB for Georgia
The coaches are acknowledging the situation.
Georgia answers with another TD of its own
Branson Robinson scores from 15 yards out, giving the Dawgs their sixth rushing touchdown of the afternoon. It's 42-10 Georgia with 4:45 left to play. Needless to say, it's been a much better performance from Georgia today than we've seen the last couple of weeks.
We have seen HISTORY
Robby Ashford just became the first Auburn quarterback to record a touchdown pass in Sanford Stadium since Chris Todd in 2009— Justin Ferguson (@JFergusonAU) October 8, 2022
Is it going to change the outcome? No. Am I happy Auburn got a TD just to give it something to be happy about? Yes. Robby Ashford hits Jarquez Hunter on a short pass, he makes a move, dodges a defender and takes off 62 yards down the sideline for a touchdown. It's 35-10 Georgia, and if you bet Auburn on the spread, that's the biggest touchdown of the day so far.
Daijun Edwards hat trick
Edwards scores his third rushing touchdown of the day to finish a 6-play, 63-yard drive and it's a 35-3 Georgia lead with 11:10 left to play. We'll probably see the Georgia second string here soon.
You'll never believe what Auburn did
It picked up zero yards in three plays and punted. OK, so maybe you believe that. Hell, maybe you expected it. Anyway, if you were entertaining the idea that this was another one of those 28-3 games featuring a team from Georgia that ends with an incredible comeback, maybe find something else to do with the rest of your evening. It ain't happening here.
Game over, man. Game over
Stetson Bennett just went 64 yards up the gut for a touchdown run. The middle of the field parted like the Red Sea for Moses and he was gone. It's the longest run of his career and it's 28-3 GEorgia.
Auburn still stuck in the mud
The best thing to happen to Auburn that possession is Malaki Starks' interception being ruled incomplete on review. Auburn goes nowhere and punts, and Georgia gets the ball back with great field position at the UGA 44.
Auburn's defense continues to play well
If you see Tigers defensive players beating up Tigers offensive players on the sideline, do not judge them. They have every right to be angry. Auburn forces another Georgia punt, though the Dawgs came close to hitting a big play. Stetson Bennett unleashed a bomb but overthrew Ladd McConkey a bit too much. Auburn gets the ball back at the AU 8.