The Auburn Tigers were no match for the Georgia Bulldogs. Does that reflect poorly on Auburn? Not necessarily. We need to see just how good Georgia actually is.
By Matt Zemek
The Dawgs are barking this year, but given how bad Clemson is and has been, UGA still has to beat a high-caliber opponent in 2021. Clemson is a brand-name opponent, but this year, the Tigers aren’t a good team, at least not yet. Regardless of how you evaluate Georgia, though, Auburn clearly has a lot of work to do. The Tigers are a long way from being a top-tier team in the SEC. On that point, everyone in the room can agree. If AU wants to change the conversation, it needs to go into Fayetteville and smack down an Arkansas team which has lost two straight games but has still had a better season than Auburn and, for that matter, Texas A&M.
Let’s see what the Tigers need to do to pull this off and change the direction of their season:
1 – Offensive line
The Auburn offensive line was not able to stand up to Georgia’s powerful defensive line. There’s no shame in that. The key is to learn and grow from the experience. After playing an elite opponent in any sport, good athletes and good teams absorb what they just endured and make the right adjustments, becoming better in the process. Auburn’s offensive line, consistently a point of concern this season, has to show it is capable of growth. Outplaying an Arkansas defensive line which stymied A&M but was then obliterated by Ole Miss would be a significant step forward for the Plainsmen and Bryan Harsin.
2 – Quarterback mysteries
Bo Nix was able to beat LSU, and to be clear, he certainly deserves credit for going into Tiger Stadium at night and finding a way to break Auburn’s Baton Rouge losing skid, which dated back to 1999, a period of 22 years. Yet, when seeing Kentucky – hardly one of the SEC’s best offenses – shred LSU for 42 points (18 more points than what Auburn managed against Ed Orgeron’s cratering defense), Nix’s overall achievement against LSU loses a measure of its luster. Nix might have to score at least 30 points if Auburn is going to win this game. Arkansas and K.J. Jefferson should score more than the 19 points LSU managed against Auburn. Can Nix win a 35-31 kind of game? Many will be skeptical of this. Let’s see if Nix can answer his critics with a huge showing.
3 – Get the jump
Arkansas ran into the Georgia buzzsaw and then lost a heartbreaker at Ole Miss. Neither of those two losses by the Hogs are bad ones. That said, UA still has a two-game losing streak and isn’t supremely confident. If Auburn can get the jump on the Razorbacks, it will feed more doubt into the Arkansas huddle and regain the winning edge it brought to LSU. It’s not a game in which Auburn is likely to climb back from an early 10- to 13-point deficit.