College Football: Auburn Looks to Upset Georgia in Season’s First Top 10 Showdown

Posted on: October 3, 2020, 12:04h. 

Last updated on: October 3, 2020, 06:21h.

The biggest college football game of the young season will take place Saturday night between the hedges of Sanford Stadium, when the fourth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs host the seventh-ranked Auburn Tigers in an SEC clash.

Auburn Georgia
Auburn quarterback Bo Nix looks downfield in last week’s win over Kentucky. The sophomore’s job will be harder this week as he and the Tigers face a talented Georgia defense. (Image: Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics)

Both teams come into the game 1-0, but the Bulldogs have a question at quarterback. D’Wan Mathis got the start at Arkansas in the season opener last week, but the redshirt freshman was replaced by junior Stetson Bennett, who completed 20-of-29 passes for 211 yards and two scores. That helped Georgia overcome a sluggish start and post a 37-10 victory.

This week, Georgia coach Kirby Smart has been like almost every football coach in America, holding his cards very close to his chest when it comes to talking about the Bulldogs quarterback situation. And he received another card in his hand when the training staff cleared sophomore JT Daniels, a transfer from Southern Cal, to play this week. Daniels started at USC as a true freshman before suffering an injury last season.

“All I can tell you is that we are going to continue to work with all the guys we’ve got to put the best guy in there to give us the best opportunity to win the football games,” Smart said.

Georgia Favored, But Bettors Mixed

Quarterback is one spot where there are no questions for the Tigers. Sophomore Bo Nix threw for 233 yards and three scores on 16-of-27 passing in last week’s 29-13 win over Kentucky. All three touchdown passes came in the second half, as the favored Tigers were able to pull away in a game some tabbed as a possible upset alert.

Now it’s the Tigers who may be looking to pull the upset. Auburn is a 7.5-point underdog according to FanDuel, and Georgia is a -350 favorite on the moneyline. The Tigers odds straight-up are +265.

Auburn’s actually getting more points than it was earlier in the week. On Friday, FanDuel announced 56 percent of spread bets and 65 percent of the spread handle was on the Tigers. Early moneyline action was heavily on Auburn, with 91 percent of the bets and 92 percent of the handle.

Oddsmakers predict a defensive contest, as the total points are at 43.5. As of Friday, 56 percent of the bets and 66 percent of the handle are on the over.

PointsBet bettors were more mixed on the game. Georgia, also a 7.5-point favorite, accounted for 55 percent of the tickets, but two-thirds of the spread handle was on Auburn. PointsBet oddsmakers set the over at 43.5, with nearly 60 percent of the handle going on the under.

Auburn, Georgia Playing for Playoff Consideration

What will make the job tough for Gus Malzahn and the Tigers is going up against arguably the best defense in all of college football. Georgia returns 17 players who were significant contributors to last year’s squad, which led the SEC in points allowed, rushing yards allowed, and total yardage allowed.

You’re looking at a team that’s probably the most talented team overall in the SEC,” Malzahn said. “They are very well-coached. You look at them defensively, they’re very sound. They make you earn stuff. They don’t give up a whole lot of big plays.”

This is a win both teams would love to have for their resume. For Georgia, Auburn will be the first of likely three top-10 opponents they’ll face in the regular season, and if they win the SEC East, they’ll almost assuredly play a fourth.

If Georgia can manage to go 3-1 in those games, they will have a resume that may be hard to keep out of the College Football Playoff, especially as Big Ten and PAC-12 teams will be playing significantly fewer games.

For Auburn, Georgia likely represents the toughest team outside of Alabama they’ll face this year. The SEC West may not be as stacked as it has been in years past, but a win against the Dawgs would definitely vault them into consideration for a playoff spot. Auburn currently has odds of +6000 on FanDuel’s national title futures board (Georgia, meanwhile, is at +1600), so a win on the road against a top 5 team would likely shorten those odds significantly.

The game will kick off at 7:30 pm ET. ESPN will broadcast it nationwide.