Georgia’s defensive players heard all of the talk about how Saturday night’s game against Auburn would be a high-scoring shootout.
Then they took the field and proved the prognostications wrong.
An Auburn team that had averaged 38.7 points and 506.9 yards per game previously this season was held to seven points and 292 yards by Georgia’s defense.
“I don’t think we really thought they were going to score just seven points,” Georgia defensive back Damian Swann said after the game. “But if we dominate like we did tonight, I think we’ll be able to hold anybody to seven points.”
Auburn scored a touchdown on its first possession of the game — and was shut out the rest of the night.
“We hunkered down and made plays,” Georgia linebacker Lorenzo Carter said.
Georgia’s 34-7 victory marked the first time since the start of the 2013 season that Auburn had been held to less than 20 points. Before Saturday, the Tigers were one of four major-college teams in the nation to score at least 20 points in every game this season and last.
But Georgia held the Tigers to 150 yards rushing and 142 yards passing. Tigers starting quarterback Nick Marshall completed 11 of 23 passes for 112 yards against his former team, the longest for 19 yards.
“It was a great defensive performance, no doubt about it,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “The first drive obviously they took it down the field and scored, but … after that we just kind of settled down and played really good ball.”
Georgia players attributed their performance to executing defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt’s game plan.
“(Pruitt) coached against those guys in (last season’s BCS Championship game), so he had a pretty good feel for what they do,” Swann said. “Every week he has a good game plan. It’s up to us to execute it, and I think we did it well today.”
“We just ran to the ball on every play,” linebacker Amarlo Herrera added. “We practiced with the mindset that we were going to get to the ball, and we weren’t going to let them run on us.”
Auburn running back Cameron Artis-Payne, who had averaged 132.2 rushing yards per game, was held to 86 yards on 20 carries.
“We didn’t get it done offensively, which I think is obvious,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “They have a good defense, but at the same time we have high expectations that we can get it done.”