No. 6 Georgia will play No. 2 Auburn in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday afternoon in the first-ever title meeting between the two schools in this setting since the divisional split. The winner gets ultimate bragging rights, an SEC title and a ticket punched to the College Football Playoff.
The Tigers are 2.5-point favorites over the Bulldogs in the SEC on CBS Game of the Week.
Georgia: The Bulldogs got exposed a bit by Auburn the last time out, when the offensive line struggle to protect quarterback Jake Fromm, and running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel were constantly forced to change direction in the backfield. If they're going to have a chance this go-round, the offensive line will have to be better and coordinator Jim Chaney will have to mix in more screens, draws and other plays that neutralize Auburn's strength -- the defensive line. In November when the two met, Auburn forced Georgia out of its comfort zone, and the Bulldogs had no answer. They have to prevent that from happening in the rematch.
Auburn: For the Tigers, it's all about the healthy of running back Kerryon Johnson. The star junior left the win over Alabama with a shoulder injury, and has been the foundation of the Tiger offense throughout the season. With Kamryn Pettway also out, the last thing Auburn needs is an inexperienced back like Kam Martin shouldering the load. Nothing against Martin, but Auburn is elite when it has the proven force between the tackles and outside. If Johnson as at, or close, to 100 percent, Auburn can run away again. If not, it's going to be a fist fight.
Before the season, I picked Georgia over Auburn in the SEC Championship Game with a College Football Playoff berth on the line. Today, I'm sticking to that pick. While I think Johnson is good enough during the week, a few hits from linebackers Roquan Smith and Lorenzo Carter might change that. Tigers coach Gus Malzahn will try to protect Johnson, the offense won't be as fluid and it will allow Georgia to hang around. If you allow Georgia to hang around, Chubb and Michel will take over. The Bulldogs will spring the upset with a statement drive in the fourth quarter that results in the game-winning field goal to send them to the CFP. Pick: Bulldogs +2.5