AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn has an opportunity other top teams would do just about anything for.
The Tigers will host No. 1 Georgia, and their freshman quarterback, on the Plains this weekend in what could be the biggest game-changer of 2017.
In what will be one of the most important games of Gus Malzahn’s career, Auburn has a couple distinctive edges. Still, the Bulldogs have earned the respect of the College Football Playoff committee for a reason.
As always, our SEC Country staff has spent the week speaking with Malzahn and players on the Auburn campus.
Now it’s time to make game predictions:
Justin Ferguson: Auburn 27, Georgia 24
I like how Auburn match up against Georgia, even with Malzahn’s struggles in big games over the last few seasons. He has a dynamic, healthy quarterback for the first time since Nick Marshall, and he’s armed with his best defense yet. I trust Jarrett Stidham more at home than the younger Jake Fromm on the road, especially with Auburn’s pass rush performing so well this season. This should be a close, physical game between two evenly talented teams. Auburn won’t hold back anything as Malzahn desperately needs this win and can’t afford to fall into the same traps he did against Clemson and LSU. Give me the desperate home team by a few points in an instant classic.
Lauren Shute: Auburn 35, Georgia 17
Auburn has several advantages, one of which is that this game will unfold in Jordan-Hare. Jarrett Stidham and Kerryon Johnson have finally got Auburn’s offense where it needs to be and the Tigers defense is finally healthy. I expect Auburn to unleash offensive schemes it hasn’t shown yet in an effort to steal the upset. Also, wish Jake Fromm well as he goes against Auburn’s defensive front, because those guys won’t stop coming after him all night long.
Benjamin Wolk: Auburn 21, Georgia 17
Two great defenses. Two great running games. Two young quarterbacks with moxy. It makes for one legendary top-10 football game. Ultimately, I expect the quarterback play to be the (very) slight margin of difference. Jarrett Stidham will connect on his opportunities, and that’s the separation in an otherwise defensive struggle.
Zac Blackerby: Auburn 20, Georgia 13
Auburn has the more talented team and the better quarterback in this matchup, but the more I think about it, the more trouble I have convincing myself that Gus Malzahn can get out of his own way in big games. I think Auburn could start fast, but the the Tigers offense will get predictable in the second half. I want to see a different Malzahn in big games than what we’ve seen so far this season. We’ll see Saturday.