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Saturday Early College Football Open Comment Thread

Georgia
Content provided by Dawg Sports.

Since the Georgia Bulldogs‘ annual showdown with the Auburn Tigers is slated to kick off at 3:30 this afternoon, we will be dividing up the day with a trio of open comment threads. This is your initial comment thread, which will cover the early gridiron action. At 2:30, the comment thread specific to the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry is scheduled to appear. Thereafter, at 7:00, a separate comment thread devoted to the evening college football outings is set to be published. While you will not be banned, warned, or subjected to having your comments deleted if you post in the wrong thread, your fellow members of the Dawg Sports community reserve the right to mock you.

Have at it in the comments below, observing, as always, the rules of decorum within reasonable boundaries.

Go ‘Dawgs! Auburna delenda est!


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Tigers Fall in Overtime to UNC Asheville, 70-69

Kenny Gabriel recorded a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds and Allen Payne added 14, but the Auburn Tigers couldn’t hold a second half lead and fell to the UNC Asheville Bulldogs in overtime, 70-69, in the season opener at Auburn Arena.
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Too Much Information (Part II): Georgia Bulldogs at Auburn Tigers

Georgia
Content provided by Dawg Sports.

After finding the Georgia Bulldogs and the Auburn Tigers to be near-equals statistically, I wanted to look beyond the stat sheet and delve into the historical minutiae, not because it necessarily bears any relevance to what will happen on the field on Saturday, but because, hey, we call it “Too Much Information” for a reason.

Here are a few data for your consideration:

  • Despite losing six of the last eight meetings to Georgia, Auburn leads the all-time series standings, 53-52-8. With a win on Saturday, the Bulldogs would even the series record for the first time since the Tigers’ 1987 win in Athens snarled the rivalry at 42-42-7.
  • The Red and Black’s four-game winning streak over the Plainsmen is the longest by either team in the rivalry since the Tigers took four straight from Georgia between 1987 and 1990. Not since Auburn won six in a row over the Bulldogs from 1953 to 1958 has either team beaten the other more than four times consecutively; not since a stretch extending from 1944 to 1948 has Georgia reeled off five series victories over the Orange and Blue.
  • Vince Dooley went 3-1 against the Tigers in his first four trips to the Loveliest Village as the head coach of the Bulldogs. Mark Richt has gone 3-1 against the Plainsmen in his first four trips to Auburn, as well. Coach Dooley’s fifth trip to face his alma mater in the Yellowhammer State ended in a 27-10 setback that gave the Red and Black their largest margin of defeat against Auburn in 16 years.
  • Even discounting the Bulldogs’ losses to South Carolina and Mississippi State in games that were close heading into the fourth quarter, Georgia is 0-3 this season in games decided by a touchdown or less. No Mark Richt-coached team has ever lost four nailbiters in a single autumn.
  • Coach Richt’s 55-27 career record in SEC play includes marks of 27-7 on opponents’ home fields and 24-9 against the Western Division. Currently, the Classic City Canines are 0-2 in outings opposite teams from the West, yet Coach Richt has never finished an autumn winless against the other division.
  • We’ll know early which way the wind is blowing: Georgia is 72-9 under Mark Richt when the Bulldogs score first, but 23-23 when the other team puts the first ticks on the scoreboard. This season, the Red and Black are 5-0 when taking the initial lead and 0-5 when falling behind from the outset.

Given the home field disadvantage and the propensity for upsets that have typified this series, and given the statistical similarities between the two squads, this is the game in which a 5-5 team is as likely as ever to beat a 10-0 team. Unfortunately, even in circumstances such as these, such a result is not very likely.

The 38-27 prediction offered by jd is legend seems to me to lowball both teams’ likely tally, but only by a little. It pains me to say so, but I think the Red and Black are going to lose a shootout to the No. 1 team in the nation, regardless of what the pollsters say.

My Prediction: Auburn Tigers 41, Georgia Bulldogs 31. (I hate Auburn.)

Go ‘Dawgs! Auburna delenda est!


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Too Much Information (Part I): Georgia Bulldogs at Auburn Tigers

Georgia
Content provided by Dawg Sports.

Two points bear making ere I begin breaking down this weekend’s matchup between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Auburn Tigers in the 114th edition of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. First of all, I will not be addressing any of the various allegations regarding Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton. At this point, there is a great deal of speculation and not much in the way of evidence, so, as much as I would find it viscerally satisfying to see the Plainsmen caught doing something underhanded, I cannot at this juncture engage in such wishful thinking without substantially more compelling proof than we now have. Whatever the accuracy, vel non, of the accusations leveled at Cam Newton, those animadversions will not bear fruit in time to affect Saturday’s outing on the Plains, so they are not pertinent for present purposes.

Secondly, I want you to know going in that the Tigers are going to win this football game. If you believe (as I do) that a series of narrow wins over nine Division I-A opponents with a combined 50-32 record is more impressive than a series of blowout wins over eight Division I-A opponents with a combined 30-43 record, you know that Auburn legitimately is the No. 1 team in the country. While I expect the Red and Black to put up a valiant fight, there’s no way a .500 Georgia squad that has struggled on the road and has yet to beat a team with a winning record is going to emerge from Jordan-Hare Stadium with a win in the hip pocket of its silver britches.

I stress that second point because, when you ignore the won-lost records of the two squads, you actually see a contest that is fairly evenly matched on paper. Consider:

  • Newton is the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy, and with good reason: the Auburn quarterback leads the league in rushing yardage, passing efficiency, and total offense. Under Newton’s guidance, the Tigers have tallied an SEC-best 54 total touchdowns, 509.4 yards per game, and 42.2 points per game. However, the Bulldogs rank third in the conference in total defense and fourth in the league in scoring defense. In the Red and Black’s first seven conference games, Georgia has held the opposition below its current scoring average in regulation play on all seven occasions.
  • The Tigers rank first in the SEC in rushing offense. The Bulldogs rank second in the SEC in rushing defense.
  • Auburn leads the league in kickoff returns. Georgia leads the league in kickoff coverage.
  • The Bulldogs’ Justin Houston and the Tigers’ Nick Fairley are the SEC’s top two defenders in both sacks (in which Houston is No. 1) and tackles for loss (in which Fairley is No. 1).

Those, though, are anomalies, right? I mean, Gus Malzahn’s offense is going to light up Todd Grantham’s defense, isn’t it? Maybe, maybe not; the Plainsmen have not yet taken on the Crimson Tide, who lead the conference in scoring defense, but here is how Auburn has fared against the other elite defensive units the league has to offer:

SEC Scoring D Rank Team Pts./Gm. Allowed Pts. Allowed v. Auburn
2nd LSU 16.2 24
3rd Miss. State 17.0 17
4th Georgia 19.4 ?

All right, maybe quality SEC defenses have held the Tigers at least marginally in check, but the Bulldogs can’t possibly match Auburn score-for-score, can they? Actually, maybe they can:

Team SEC Red Zone Off. Rank Red Zone Chances Red Zone Scores Red Zone TDs Red Zone FG Att. Red Zone FG Made
Auburn 3rd 48 42 31 13 11
Georgia 2nd 47 42 29 15 13

It sounds like the Red and Black may be better able to go toe-to-toe with the Orange and Blue than anticipated. That possibility appears even more probable when we look at the other side of the ball:

Team SEC Red Zone Def. Rank Red Zone Chances All. Red Zone Scores All. Red Zone TDs All. Red Zone FG Att. v. Red Zone FG Made v.
Auburn 9th 30 26 20 8 6
Georgia 8th 21 18 15 4 3

We have been speculating about how to beat Auburn, but it is just that—speculation—because no one has done it so far this season. Clearly, the Tigers are by far the toughest opponent with whom the Bulldogs have crossed paths this autumn, and Georgia will need to play very nearly a perfect game to emerge victorious.

Nevertheless, it is not outlandish to suppose that this might come to pass. For instance, the Red and Black will need to keep the ball away from the Auburn offense and win the turnover battle in order to have a realistic chance. However, the Bulldogs appear poised to do just that; Georgia leads the SEC in average time of possession, after all, and the Athenians’ +7 turnover margin is tied for the best in the league. While the Plainsmen justifiably are the favorites, the Bulldogs stack up reasonably well against the Tigers.

Robert E. Lee did not have the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry in mind when he wrote that it is history that teaches us to hope, but the words he penned are applicable to this series. Georgia is 14-9-2 all-time in Jordan-Hare Stadium . . . but, the last time the Bulldogs took on an undefeated Auburn team in the Loveliest Village, the Tigers claimed a 24-6 victory in 2004.

Similarly, the Red and Black are 23-19-8 over the Plainsmen in games settled by seven or fewer points, including each of the last two series meetings, both Bulldog wins. This year, though, Auburn is 5-0 in outings decided by margins of eight or fewer points, including 3-0 at home and 1-0 in overtime games. Georgia, on the other hand, is 0-3 in nailbiters, with an 0-2 mark outside of Athens and an 0-1 ledger in extra innings. A close contest may not work in the Bulldogs’ favor.

In many respects, Saturday’s combatants are evenly matched, but Cameron Newton likely will make the difference. As previously noted, Newton is a strong contender for the Heisman Trophy, which ought to give Bulldog Nation pause. In 1971, Pat Sullivan stated his case for the award he later claimed in an impressive aerial performance in Athens. Against Georgia in 1985, Bo Jackson rumbled for 121 yards on just 19 carries (including a 67-yard touchdown run) en route to his own stiffarm statue. Cam Newton very well may follow in their footsteps.

Nothing would be sweeter after such a disappointing season than getting payback against the Plainsmen for spoiling perfect Red and Black seasons in 1892, 1942, 1971, and 1983, but will it happen? The outlook appears doubtful, despite the signs of hope, but we have a few more details at which to look ere I am prepared to declare the final score.

Stay tuned. . . .

Go ‘Dawgs! Auburna delenda est!


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On the Proper Spirit of Rivalry Between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Auburn Tigers, Those Stalwarts in Orange and Blue

Georgia
Content provided by Dawg Sports.

Although extenuating circumstances unrelated to the Georgia Bulldogsloss in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party caused the cancellation of Kit Kitchens’s weekly podcast, we will be back on the air this week in preparation for Saturday’s outing against the Auburn Tigers. We recorded the show on Monday evening, and, when asked why I hate Auburn, I offered an explanation, but I added a caveat that I have come into contact with more agreeable Auburn fans in the last five years than I did in the 35 or so years prior to that.

Although I seldom miss an opportunity to emphasize how seriously I take the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, our feud is an institutional one rather than a personal one, and I am appreciative of sentiments such as this one from War Eagle Atlanta:

Go by and check out our sister SB Nation blog Dawg Sports, with whom we still have diplomatic ties. Mind your manners, as Georgia week is like a family reunion, and although four years of frustration have built up, maintaining a respectful rivalry with our Dawg cousins is important, or at least for a Georgia immigrant like me. Besides, head Dawg Sports writer T. Kyle King always has interesting and realistic commentary and we just may enlist his full support for our BCS run after this weekend is all over.

I appreciate War Eagle Atlanta’s healthy attitude, which is why I decided initially to let it slide when I discovered Dawg Sports had been linked to in the following passage:

Waiting on this guy’s yearly screed on how much he hates Auburn (because some of our fans took clippings from their fancy bushes at Sanford Stadium after an Auburn win or something … I forget) and the back-and-forth on Track’em. My thoughts on Georgia? Meh. I like playing them and there is no hate here. I like the history of the rivalry and the common roots of the opposing players. We’re due, BTW. Dude should take a deep breath and just except the inevitable this year. With pain comes release.

I agree that Auburn is due, and I accept the inevitable this year (although I accepted it last year, too, and I turned out to be wrong, for whatever that’s worth), but I don’t think I engage in annual screeds, unless recounting historical facts accurately counts as a screed. In any case, the interaction between the two camps generally has been positive lately, so I am disinclined to do anything to upset the apple cart unduly.

That said, I received an e-mail from Jeremy Henderson, who called my attention to a posting of his in which he reproduced a 1959 letter from James Foy, the recently deceased dean of student affairs at Auburn, to David Cleghorn, the editor of The Red and Black. Cleghorn had written a column in the University of Georgia student newspaper in which he expressed strong disagreement with the decision of the Better Relations Committee (a body made up of Auburn, Georgia, and Georgia Tech students) to discourage the use of “Turkey Buzzards” as an epithet applicable to matriculants at an institution symbolized by an eagle at which “War Eagle!” was (and remains) a battle cry.

While technically inaccurate, it isn’t as though “Turkey Buzzards” was a baseless jab.

Dean Foy, taking issue with Cleghorn’s position that Auburn students were “bitter because they can’t make some kind of name out of Bulldog,” responded by doing what I recently criticized Todd Grantham for doing; namely, responding in kind as a grown man engaged in a trash-talking battle with a college student. Here is the epistle penned by the Auburn director of student affairs to the editor of the Georgia student newspaper:

What have we learned, boys and girls? I submit that we have learned the following:

  • The Auburn dean of students did not know the difference between “you” and “your.”
  • The Auburn dean of students did not know the difference between “petal” and “pedal.”
  • The Auburn dean of students did not know how to spell “abhorrent,” “enhance,” or “students.”
  • The Auburn dean of students had no qualms about writing personal correspondence to students on rival campuses in which he referred to those collegians as “sons of bitches,” only to deny immediately thereafter that he would ever do what he had just done.

In Dean Foy’s defense, however, he did know how to spell “Auburn,” which is not a claim all members of the Tiger faithful are able to make.

That’s what I love about the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, folks. Whenever our memory of the intensity of this rivalry starts to fade, we are reminded of the origins underlying our stereotypes of one another, and the reasons for their continued durability.

Naturally, I appreciate Jeremy’s e-mail, and the spirit of good-natured yet heartfelt rivalry in which it was intended; likewise, I credit Dean Foy for the sly sentiment underlying his letter, and I mean no disrespect to the memory of this recently-departed Auburn icon, who meant as much in the Loveliest Village as his Georgia counterpart, William Tate, meant in the Classic City. (Regarding the apparent deficiencies in Dean Foy’s education, I am certain the Tiger faithful would be quick to point out that the longtime Auburn administrator was an Alabama alumnus.)

Dean Foy’s salty language, however, reminds me of a scene in the movie “Patton” in which George Patton (not the Georgia defensive tackle) refused to share a victory toast with America’s Russian allies. Through a translator, the U.S. general informed his Soviet colleague that he wasn’t interested in drinking with any “Russian son of a bitch.” Offended, the Soviet general replied that he thought General Patton was a son of a bitch, too. General Patton laughed and said, “I’ll drink to that. One son of a bitch to another.”

That is the spirit in which I look forward to this weekend’s renewal of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, which has remained uninterrupted for more than a century except by worldwide warfare and the death of a player from injuries sustained in a game. Rather than offer a screed explaining why I hate Auburn, I prefer to meet Jeremy Henderson, War Eagle Atlanta, and the good people on the opposite side of this ancient divide in the spirit of respectful mutual institutional disdain without personal animosity, as a rivalry this storied between two programs with such a long history of cross-pollination demands.

Here’s hoping we have a good game, guys. Let’s drink to that, Auburn fan and Georgia fan alike, one son of a bitch to another.

Go ‘Dawgs! Auburna delenda est!


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SEC Power Poll Ballot: Week Ten

South Carolina
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1. Auburn Tigers

The Tigers can wrap up the SEC West this weekend with a victory over UGA.

2. LSU Tigers

The Mad Hatter strikes again in a wild victory over Alabama. I’m beginning to believe again, like I did in 2007, that there may be a method to his madness. I’m sure he’ll lose a last-second thriller due to clock mismanagement, though, to prove me wrong.

3. Alabama Crimson Tide

The Tide blew their shot at returning to a BCS bowl by losing to LSU.

4. Arkansas Razorbacks

The Hogs dominated South Carolina and appear to be gearing up for a strong finish.

5. Mississippi St. Bulldogs

The Bulldogs have a shot to move up a bit if they can beat Arkansas and / or Alabama. Def. the league’s surprise team of the year.

6. Florida Gators

The East is on the line in Gainesville this week.

7. South Carolina Gamecocks

Was that the beginning of another November swoon? The ‘Cocks still have a chance to win the East if they regroup.

8. Georgia Bulldogs

UGA has a chance to much up Auburn’s dream season this weekend.

9. Mississippi Rebels

The Rebels will have to figure out a way to win two of three against UT, LSU, and MSU to make bowl eligibility. Think they’d like those games against Vandy and Jacksonville St. back now?

10. Kentucky Wildcats

The Wildcats should wrap up bowl eligibility against Vandy this weekend. The real target, though, is ending their losing streak against Tennessee.

11. Tennessee Volunteers

Still not out of the running for bowl eligibility if they can win out.

12. Vanderbilt Commodores

Utterly demolished by Florida.


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Auburn Rolls Past Chattanooga in Homecoming

Cam Newton accounted for five touchdowns as the Auburn Tigers rolled past Chattanooga, 62-24, on Homecoming.
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Gabriel Leads Auburn to Exhibition Win Over West Alabama

Kenny Gabriel recorded a double-double with 15 points and 16 rebounds as the Auburn Tigers posted a 79-66 exhibition victory over the Division II West Alabama Tigers.
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A Word To All: There Are Black Bears In Mississippi

When it comes to mascots, I usually don’t lose much sleep over them.  When one goes away — Colonel Reb — I’m not likely to don a sandwich board and declare that my heritage is being trampled on.  Nor am I likely to fire off a snarky column because some school has chosen a new on-field mascot that doesn’t tie directly to said school’s sporting nickname.

Mascots are for children.  Kiddies get their photos taken with mascots.  I know of no adults who want to hang out with mascots.  I wouldn’t want to go to dinner with a mascot or have a mascot do my taxes.  Would you? 

So why should anyone care about what a school chooses to be its new official “Big Bird” or “Snuffaluffagus?”

Ah, but many do care.  When Ole Miss announced that its new on-field, live mascot would be someone in a black bear suit, there was outrage in one corner, guffawing in the other. 

“A black bear?  In Mississippi?”

Yes.  Black bears in Mississippi.  Laughably, The Jackson Clarion-Ledger set out to prove that there are indeed black bears in the state of Mississippi and they found — in fact — that the population is growing.

So take that all you masters of mascotology.  Looks like you’ll just have to get upset over something else. 

Might I suggest a rant on why the Alabama Crimson Tide has a guy in an elephant suit roaming its sideline.  Or a blog post asking what a bluetick coon hound has to do with the Tennessee Volunteers.  Or a column asking why the Auburn Tigers have an eagle as their live mascot.

Or you could do what I do and just say, “Who cares?”  Mascots are for kids anyway.

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SEC Power Poll Ballot: Week Nine

 

 



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