If it’s not too painful, think back to the 13:04 mark of the second quarter Saturday, when Auburn was in firm command of the SEC title game.
The Tigers held a 7-0 lead and were driving when quarterback Jarrett Stidham dropped back to throw. He stepped up in the pocket, and — in a decision that would completely reverse the course of the game — decided to move right instead of scrambling upfield.
Georgia defensive end David Bellamy rushed in from behind and stripped Stidham of the football. Linebacker Roquan Smith snatched it out of the ensuing pile, and the Bulldogs drove down the field for a 7-7 tie.
That was the first of four non-scoring plays that doomed Auburn in a 28-7 loss Saturday. Here are the other three:
Roquan Smith strikes again
Smith, a strong All-America candidate, made a number of important plays Saturday. With Georgia leading 10-7 just before halftime and Auburn in field-goal range, the linebacker perfectly timed a blitz, blew by the Tigers offensive line and sacked Stidham on third-and-5 to knock Auburn out of scoring range.
The Tigers tallied 123 yards the rest of the way.
“They did a great job of bringing a lot of different looks, switching up the coverages, blitzes, fronts, I mean, everything,” Stidham said afterward. “They did a great job tonight of switching it up and causing a little bit of havoc. It is what it is. We just didn’t execute when we should have.”
Not-so-automatic Daniel Carlson
Daniel Carlson is one of the best kickers in the history of college football. But his 31-yard attempt in the third quarter was a low line drive that the Bulldogs stuffed at the line of scrimmage. In his defense, the snap was high and the ‘Dawgs got a good push, but it doesn’t change the fact that a kick with a little more height would have tied the game at 10-10.
Kerryon Johnson drops the ball
As the fourth quarter began, Auburn was down 13-7 and had the ball at its own 47-yard line. At that point, it was anybody’s game, and the Tigers gave Kerryon Johnson a first-down carry in an attempt to move past midfield.
As Johnson slipped through a small hole, Georgia’s Lorenzo Carter punched out the football and — who else? — Smith recovered it at the Auburn 39-yard line.
The Bulldogs needed just four plays to get into the end zone, and then tacked on a 2-point conversion for a 21-7 lead.
“Just be honest, Kerryon was not 100 percent,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “He wasn’t the same guy he was last game, so that probably helped some as well. We felt getting after the quarterback was the way to beat them, and we did that much better this game than we did the last game.”