Taking a closer look at Georgia’s win over Auburn



The No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs and No. 18-ranked Auburn renewed the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry for the 126th time since 1892 on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Bulldogs came away with a 34-10 victory, their fifth win in the row in series.

Here’s how it happened:

Key play

Auburn trailed 17-3 late in the second quarter when it mounted an impressive two-minute drive to the Georgia 7. On third-and-goal, running back Shaun Shivers dropped Bo Nix’s pass. It appeared that the Tigers were going to settle for a chip-shot field goal inside the first half’s final minute. But Georgia’s Derion Kendrick jumped offside before the attempt. Given half the distance and another few seconds to think things over, Auburn’s Bryan Harsin decided to go for the touchdown from the Georgia 3. With lots of contact on both sides, Georgia’s Latavious Brini knocked away the pass for Ze’Vian Capers in the back of the end zone, and Auburn came away empty with only 40 seconds remaining in the first half.

Key stat

Georgia freshman Ladd McConkey led the Bulldogs with 135 yards receiving and scored a 60-yard touchdown on a pass from quarterback Stetson Bennett. What makes McConkey’s performance even more amazing is it came in a game in which the Bulldogs were even more depleted at wide receiver. Normally a slot receiver, the 6-foot, 185-pound McConkey switched over to play the “Z,” or flanker, position. That was because sophomore starter Jermaine Burton was unable to go because of a groin pull he suffered in practice earlier this week. The Bulldogs still were without Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint (ankle), Dominick Blaylock (hamstring) and several other members of their receiving corps.

Game ball

It has to go again to Bennett – aka “The Mailman” -- who again delivered for the Bulldogs. The 5-11, 190-pound senior quarterback again filled in for injured starter JT Daniels (lat strain). Bennett completed 14 of 21 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 41 yards rushing, including 30 yards on a single game-defining play that allowed Georgia to put the game away as the game transitioned from the third to the fourth quarter. Bennett improved to 7-2 in starting roles and 8-2 overall as Georgia’s primary quarterback.

What we learned

We learned that Georgia’s defense is truly “elite.” For coach Kirby Smart, the definition of that word changes from week to week. But on this particular Saturday, the Bulldogs proved to be elite in the red zone. The Tigers reached Georgia’s red zone – defined as the area inside the opponent’s 20 – three times. They managed to score twice, once on a touchdown run, another time on a field goal and they failed to score the other time. The red-zone touchdown was the first allowed by Georgia this season.

They said it

“Yeah, it’s pretty cool. I try to keep level. I get juiced up, too, but I leave that kind of stuff up to Jordan Davis, who’s going to talk to y’all next.” – Georgia senior quarterback Stetson Bennett

“You definitely feel it in the air. That’s how we carry ourselves as a team. We celebrate together, we win together. It’s not really emotional for us. We try to take the emotions out of it and look at as we’ve got a job to do.” – senior nose guard Jordan Davis.

Georgia 34, Auburn 10

What’s next

Georgia: The Bulldogs (6-0, 4-0 SEC) will head home to Athens to prepare for Saturday’s homecoming game against No. 16 Kentucky (3:30 p.m., CBS). The Wildcats (5-0, 3-0) were undefeated entering Saturday night’s home game against LSU.

Auburn: The Tigers (4-2, 1-1) head to Fayetteville, Ark., on Saturday to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks (4-2, 1-2).