November 13, 2009

Preview: Auburn at Georgia

WHERE: Sanford Stadium

WHEN: Saturday, 7 p.m.

RECORDS: Georgia 5-4, 3-3; Auburn 7-3, 3-3

HEAD COACHES: Georgia - Mark Richt (87-26, ninth season); Auburn - Gene Chizik (7-3, first year; 12-22 overall)

TV/RADIO: ESPN2 (Mark Jones, Bob Davies)/Georgia Bulldog Radio Network

REPLAY: Sunday, 11 a.m. (CSS)

Saturday's Game

Georgia can become bowl eligible with a victory over the Tigers, who at 7-3 are looking to improve their standing in the pecking order when bowl bids go out in three weeks. The Georgia-Auburn series is the Deep South's oldest rivalry that began in 1892 as the teams will be meeting for the 113th time. Auburn leads the series 53-51-8, although the Bulldogs have won three straight and will be looking to capture four in a row for the first time since 1948.

Injury Update

There's great news from a Bulldog perspective. Wide receiver A.J. Green is back after missing last week's game against Tennessee Tech with a bruised lung. His return will greatly improve Georgia's chances against Auburn, which features one of the country's most potent offenses, averaging 450 yards per game. The Bulldogs also welcome back defensive end Justin Houston, who missed last week's contest with a hyper-extended elbow.

Ealey emerging

Freshman running back Washaun Ealey has led the Bulldogs in rushing for three straight weeks, including last week's 89-yard effort, which included the first two touchdowns of his collegiate career. The Bulldogs have had four different leading rushers though nine games. Sophomore Richard Samuel started the first six games, Ealey the next two while sophomore Caleb King started against Tennessee Tech and is slated to open against the Tigers.

Curran second in league in tackles

Junior linebacker Rennie Curran is second in the SEC with 9.1 tackles per game (82 for the year) and has led the Bulldogs in eight of nine games after playing sparingly in the win over Tennessee Tech. He is the top returning tackler is the SEC after recording 115 stops in 2008. Curran set a new career high with 16 tackles against LSU. Earlier, he matched his 15 tackles against South Carolina and has the game-winning pass breakup in the game's final seconds.

Walsh on pace for record

Sophomore kicker Blair Walsh is on pace to set the school single-season record for field goal accuracy. He has hit 13-of-14 (92.86 percent). The record is 13-of-14 for the season by Billy Bennett in 2000. Walsh connected on a 37-yard field to beat Arizona State as time expired, the first game-winner for the Bulldog s since Brandon Coutu kicked one from the same distance to beat Vanderbilt in 2007. Walsh has a career-long of 53-yard field goal at Oklahoma State this year and connected on a 52-yarder against Tennessee. His kick against the Cowboys was the longest field goal for the Bulldogs since Coutu kicked a 55-yarder against UAB in 2006. Walsh's field goal was the longest on the road since Hap Hines hit a 54-yarder against Kentucky in 1996.

About the Tigers

Running back Ben Tate ranks 12th nationally in rushing yards (114.2) and has six 100-yard rushing games this season. He has 1,142 yards for the year. … The Tigers' current pace of 450.3 yards per game would result in a school-record 5,854 yards of offense by the end of the season. … Auburn has 24 drives this season that have taken less than two minutes, and 21 of those drives ended with touchdowns. … Antonio Coleman leads the SEC with 12.5 tackles for loss and is tied for second with 6.5 sacks. His 21 career sacks are tied for third in school history. … Kicker Wes Bynum is tied for the fifth nationally in field goal percentage (92.9) among kickers who have attempted at least 10 field goals.

Prediction

Based on the defensive statistics by both squads, Saturday's game looks to be a high-scoring affair. The Tigers have moved the football at ease for most of the year and are coming off a 63-point effort against Furman. As for the Bulldogs, the story has been the same - the inability to create turnovers and the penchant for penalties that continue to burden the team no matter how Richt and his coaches try to keep them from occurring. It's definitely been a trying year for the Bulldogs, who can still qualify for a bowl with one more win in their final three games. Georgia is a four-point favorite to get that done against the Tigers. Unfortunately, consistency hasn't exactly been the Bulldogs' strength, which plagued havoc with anybody trying to predict their games. However, we'll give it a shot. Prediction: Georgia 35, Auburn 31.

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