Auburn’s head coach didn’t let his players go from their Sunday practice before going over last year’s 37-15 loss to Georgia in bitter detail.
“It’s hard to forget those type,” Tuberville said. “We were playing pretty well and Georgia came in and hit us from play one and never let up, and we never recovered.”
The Tigers went into that game ranked No. 5 in the nation, sights firmly set on a trip to the SEC championship game and with even a national title shot still in the picture. They left having fallen victim to Georgia’s season-saving win, and a blowout nonetheless.
The two-touchdown underdog Bulldogs outgained Auburn 446-171, picked off Tigers quarterback Brandon Cox four times and celebrated the coming-out party of their own quarterback, then-freshman Matthew Stafford.
Now it’s Georgia with more to lose. The Bulldogs (7-2, 4-2 SEC) are ranked No. 10 in the country and one loss by Tennessee away from being in charge of the Eastern Division.
“We know what’s at stake,” tight end Tripp Chandler said. “Every game is crucial. We can’t worry about whether Tennessee wins out and takes the East or not. We just have to keep playing hard and get wins.”
Georgia hosts the No. 18 Tigers (7-3, 4-2) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Sanford Stadium. The game will be televised by CBS.
“Auburn has had a lot of success here in Athens and also has had a lot of success in ruining Georgia’s chances for SEC titles, and Georgia has kind of returned the favor,” Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt said. “Because the game is situated late in the season, there have been times they’ve spoiled our party, and there have been times we have spoiled their party.”
The Bulldogs’ current party is happening on offense, where they have amassed 878 yards in the last two games, including the 465 they gained Saturday while beating Troy 44-34.
“We’re starting to block better, that’s the big key,” Richt said. “When you give the quarterback a little more time and give the running backs a little more space, you skill tends to play better.”
Georgia is hoping to get offensive reinforcements this week in the form of senior running back Thomas Brown, who has missed the last three games due to a broken collarbone.
“He’s definitely got a chance to play in this one, he’s motivated to,” Richt sad. “We’re going to start working him this week as if he’s going to play.”
Richt declined to speculate on how much work Brown will get if he returns since freshman Knowshon Moreno is riding a streak of three straight 100-plus yard rushing games.
Having already beaten Florida this year, Georgia will be fighting history this weekend. Not since 1982 have the Bulldogs beaten the Gators and the Tigers in the same season.
“I’m sure people will be writing about that,” Richt said, “and that’s something we need to change.”