Last season: 8-5
Series Record: Georgia trails 52-53-8
It seems that Gene Chizik is getting momentum going at Auburn, which is stunning considering that hated Alabama just won the national title. The Tigers are still second fiddle in state, but Chizik sort of surprised some people with the type of season they had last year.
Still, close does not get the job done at Auburn. Four straight losses in a row to Georgia is one thing, but losing two in a row against the Tide – while hated Bama won the national title – is another.
Chizik and company have become innovative recruiters. Lane Kiffin is gone, and Auburn might be the most creative of the SEC bunch when it comes to recruiting – and they need to be. No matter where Auburn goes – Alabama, Florida or Georgia – they are not the namesake school. It is a difficult chore to win on a high level at Auburn; it really is; particularly when Alabama is hitting on all cylinders. That’s why the Tigers need a pretty good 2010. It doesn’t seem like anyone is expecting Auburn to top Bama in the West, but something better than a 3-5 record in SEC play would be advised. Auburn was certainly competitive in its biggest two games of the season, but they lost to Bama and Georgia. Being competitive is not good enough.
The SEC is big boy football, and the boosters and fans are big boys who have little patience for subpar results. The momentum has been there in recruiting and to some degree on the field for the Tigers, but a slip in 2010 will put Chizik on the hot seat in 2011, and that’s not a fun place to be.
LAST TIME OUT:
Most memorable Georgia win: 2007 – The Blackout – anything more need to be said?
Most painful Georgia loss: 1983 – Georgia falls to Auburn as the Tigers snap Georgia’s run of three SEC titles.
Player to Watch: Cameron Newton was kicked off the team at Florida for stealing laptops. He went to a junior college and is now at Auburn where he will be the starting quarterback in the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Newton is a tall, athletic quarterback with ability. He has limited experience, but gives Auburn a fighting chance at quarterback… a spot where they have not been overwhelmingly productive against the Bulldogs in some time. An Atlanta native, the jury is still out on whether Newton will be what the Tigers need in the future.
2010’s Big Question: Cameron Newton - is he the answer?
Recruiting Implications: Significant, but not the highest of Georgia’s rivals. I have written many, many times that recruiting is a zero-sum game. Two teams can’t sign the same player – only one school can. At the same time, Auburn and Alabama can’t both be effective in Georgia – only one of them can, and right now that’s Bama. It might not continue to be that way, but Nick Saban and the Tide have correctly diagnosed that Atlanta is a recruiting hotbed. The focus of Bama on Atlanta makes Auburn’s recruiting of the city a little more difficult (it makes Georgia’s recruiting of Atlanta more difficult, too). Still, Auburn and Georgia are always going to fight over players from west Georgia. The Carver pipeline is heavy with talent in Columbus, and the Dawgs have not signed a true prep star from there since Jasper Sanks. That needs to change.
Legge’s must-win game for the Tigers: October 30th at Ole Miss… I think Auburn is going to be better in 2010, but the trip to Oxford is a tricky one (so is the game at Kentucky). Georgia and Bama are the Tigers’ most important games, but the Ole Miss game will determine bowl pecking order.