I wish I could say I was totally at ease with the thought of Georgia winning tonight, but I’m not there. That’s not to say I’m not excited about the game. It’s got all the makings of a classic barn burner. I’m still very much convinced we won’t know who wins until the last couple of minutes.
How about some bullet points?
- Overrated: weather. Yeah, it’ll be in the upper thirties come game time, but with little wind. It won’t be great if you’re a fan, but not too terrible, either. And as for the players, when you’re running down 900-1000 yards of total offense, you won’t have time to notice the temperature.
- Underrated: efficient concession stands. Wonder what the over/under will be on cups of coffee and hot chocolate sold.
- Overrated: turnover margin. It’s not that it isn’t important – it’s friggin’ huge; Georgia wins if it goes plus-2 – it’s that I doubt it comes into play. Georgia is plus-13 on the season, but all the gain came in four games. The Dawgs are dead even in the other five. And I have this painful feeling that Auburn shot its wad in turning the ball over last week against TAMU.
- Underrated: Malcolm Mitchell’s reemergence. For all the focus on the running game, this is big. Mitchell’s slow return to form means Georgia can commit four legitimate receiving options to the attack when it goes three-wide, with Blazevich at tight end. That will put real pressure on Auburn’s shaky safeties in the pass game, but will also force them to stay honest. That should be space for Gurley and Chubb to break out if they can get to the next level on runs.
- Overrated: offensive efficiency. Both teams are going to move the ball. The offenses are too good and the defenses are too flawed to suspect otherwise. I don’t think it’s likely to matter too much how many plays it takes to get on the scoreboard.
- Underrated: special teams. Again, with all the attention being paid to the offenses, I think it’s been a little overlooked that Georgia has a real advantage in this one area. And, yes, it’s a little weird typing that. That being said, if Auburn pulls off a trick special play that burns Georgia for the third straight game, I shall be pissed.
- Overrated: Auburn with an early lead. If Georgia could come back last year on the road, down by seventeen mid-fourth quarter, being down in the first half shouldn’t be that daunting. As long as it doesn’t get out of control, that is.
- Underrated: Georgia with an early lead. Auburn, on the other hand, lost both games in which it got down by two touchdowns in the first half. Nick Marshall doesn’t do must throw the ball that well.
I could go on. But this is going to be a game where more than anything Mike Bobo and Gus Malzahn will match wits, knowing that they have to cover for their teams’ defensive shortcomings. Malzahn’s got the bigger rep, but with Duke Williams’ absence and Todd Gurley’s return, Bobo may be the one with more weapons to deploy.
One thing about the intangibles – I do think they favor the home team, but what would really put the cherry on top of the sundae would be Mississippi State beating Alabama today. That would eliminate Auburn’s chance to win the West and give the Tigers’ psyche one more kick in the groin.
I hope I’m wrong about this, but while I wish this were a game that came down to Georgia controlling field position and turnovers, which has been a winning formula all season, I have this nagging feeling that it’s going to come down to that rather large rabbit’s foot that Malzahn owns.