Posted on November 12, 2017, by Travis Pulver
When the CFB Playoff Committee named the Georgia Bulldogs the No. 1 team in the nation, fans were happy. But at the same time, they were a little nervous as well. Competition in the SEC is always fierce. But if there is one thing every team dreams of doing (next to being No. 1), it is knocking off the No. 1 team in the land.
So, when you become the No. 1 team in the land, you know teams are not only going to give you their best game. They are going to figure out a way to step it up a notch or two—which is exactly what the Auburn Tigers did Saturday afternoon.
They gave the No. 1 team in the nation their best game—and they took them down with a dominating 40-17 final score. Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn had this to say about his team after the game (ESPN):
“They seized the moment.”
Seize it they did. Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham had a very efficient day passing (16-23, 214 yards and three touchdowns) and tacked on a rushing touchdown as well. Kerryon Johnson was once again the workhorse with 32 carries for 167 yards. He also had two receptions for 66-yard and a touchdown.
“We knew we had a great team, but we had to go out and prove it,” Johnson said (ESPN). “We did that today, and that’s something we can hang our hat on.”
As well as the offense played, the defense and special teams deserve a lot of credit as well. The Tigers held Georgia’s run game to just 46 net yards on the day. Nick Chubb struggled to find room to run gaining just 27 yards on 11 carries. Sony Michel only managed to gain 21 yards on nine carries.
“They just were being physical,” Georgia running back Sony Michel said after the game (onlineathens.com). “They were more physical than us today. You’ve just got to commend those guys for coming out here and playing a good ballgame.”
Jake Fromm is a good quarterback, but Auburn knew it would have an advantage if they could force the Bulldogs to count on him to win the game. He ended up going 13-28 for 184 yards and a touchdown (in garbage time) but rarely had much time to make his throws.
A muffed punt and a 15-yard penalty on another special teams play led to two Auburn touchdowns in the third quarter. Auburn had led 16-7 at the half, but less than seven minutes into the second they extended it to 30-7.
Auburn’s offense ended up out-gaining Georgia’s 488-230. Georgia’s defense had been giving up just 254.1 yards/game (No. 3) and 11.7 points/game (No. 2).
Georgia will try to bounce back next week when the Kentucky Wildcats come to town. Auburn will look to keep the good times rolling against Louisiana-Monroe.
Georgia will no longer be the No. 1 team when the new rankings come out. The slide could stop at No. 4, but it would not be shocking to see them fall as far as No. 5. It will depend on how much weight they give the magnitude of their defeat and that of Oklahoma’s win over TCU.
Auburn will jump a few spots and have set up a heck of a showdown in a few weeks when they face Alabama. Should they take down another No. 1 team, the Tigers could become the first two-loss team in the CFB Playoffs.