When you’re comparing college football to the NFL, generally you’ll see higher over/unders on college games, that is, until you get to the SEC where power run-games still reign supreme. Case in point: this weekend’s Goliath vs. Goliath matchup between No. 1 Georgia and No. 14 Auburn, which has an NFL-esque total of 49.5. Many were surprised when Georgia topped Alabama in the first CFP poll, but the 9-0 Bulldogs already own a road-win against a top-three team (Notre Dame) and have a 29-point average margin of victory in six conference games. It’s hard to knock Auburn (7-2) for its two losses — 14-6 at then-no. 3 Clemson; 27-23 at LSU — as they came on the road against quality teams. But they also don’t have a win over anyone near Georgia’s level. LSU was able to put up 157 rush yards on the Tigers vaunted defense a few weeks back, and Georgia’s run-first attack should be able to emulate that success and eke out a narrow win in a relatively low-scoring game.
Now let’s dive into some of our advanced numbers on these two programs.
Can Georgia stop Jeff Holland?
The Bulldogs have one of the SEC’s best offensive lines in pass protection, but they haven’t faced a pass-rusher like Auburn’s Jeff Holland.
Holland leads the SEC, by a wide margin, with 38 QB pressures this season.
Georgia’s true freshman right tackle Andrew Thomas will be the one typically charged with stopping Holland. It sounds like a mismatch—the SEC’s best pass-rusher against a true freshman—but Thomas looks like a star in the making.
Thomas has only allowed four QB pressures this season and zero sacks in 166 snaps in pass protection. Those numbers are certainly aided by Georgia’s run-heavy offense, but it’s still an impressive feat for a true freshman.
Will Georgia open up the playbook for Jake Fromm?
Georgia’s running game and dominant defense have given the coaching staff the luxury of easing freshman Jake Fromm into the offensive game plan this season.
In seven games against Power Five opponents, Fromm has attempted just 28 throws that traveled at least 15 yards downfield.
Fromm has excelled on those throws, completing 53.6 percent of his attempts with six touchdowns and just one interception. But very few of these throws have been made with the game on the line. In fact, Fromm was just 1-of-5 on throws of 15 or more yards downfield in the second half against Notre Dame—the only game in which Georgia has really been challenged down the stretch.
If Auburn keeps it close, Fromm may have to put the team on his back and make some clutch throws down the field. How he responds in that situation could determine the outcome of the game.
Can Derrick Brown help Auburn stop the Georgia rushing attack?
Georgia’s trio of Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and D’Andre Swift have run all over opposing defenses this season, but Auburn might be up for the challenge of slowing them down.
The Tigers front seven boasts four different players with at least seven stuffs (tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage, excluding sacks), led by Derrick Brown’s nine.
Auburn linebacker Deshaun Davis (seven stuffs on the year) will also be key. Not only is he capable of making plays in the backfield but he’s been a reliable tackler for the Tigers. Davis leads the team with 42 tackles and has a missed tackle rate of just 7.1 percent.