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Alabama or Auburn: Against which team would the Georgia Bulldogs have best shot?
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Alabama or Auburn: Against which team would the Georgia Bulldogs have best shot?

Alabama or Auburn: Against which team would the Georgia Bulldogs have best shot?

Alabama or Auburn: Against which team would the Georgia Bulldogs have best shot?

ATHENS – It’s the question everybody wants to ask but one for which there is no easy answer. Who should Georgia want to meet in the SEC Championship Game, Alabama or Auburn?

The Bulldogs have been sitting here as Eastern Division champions officially since Nov. 4 and unofficially for weeks before that. It didn’t take very long into this season to realize that the Bulldogs were going to be the class of its side of the league.

Kirby Smart-Gus Malzahn
Kirby Smart (R) is 1-1 against Gus Malzahn and Auburn as Georgia’s head coach.

Meanwhile, Alabama was kind of always penciled in for the West. A while back, there might’ve been a few folks who already had the Crimson Tide written down in big, bold Sharpie considering the way their season was going, and how everybody else over on that side was doing.

Certainly, nobody was talking about Auburn. If the Tigers weren’t written off after that 11-sack debacle to Clemson in Week 2, they were by the time they blew a late lead to LSU on Oct. 14.

But then Georgia-Auburn happened on Nov. 11 at Jordan-Hare Stadium, the mighty Tide incurred a few key injuries and suddenly looked of-this-world and now everybody’s wondering just which one of the teams from the next state over will end up in Atlanta on Dec. 2.

We’ll all find out for certain on Saturday when Auburn and Alabama clash in the Iron Bowl at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

In a rivalry that has produced many classic confrontations, they’re expecting another heart-stopper. A line that saw Alabama favored by two touchdowns before Auburn did what it did to Georgia had been reduced for four skinny points at last check. That’s the smallest point spread in that game since 2010, when the Tigers were 3.5 point underdogs. Auburn won 28-27 that year, by the way.

So, if the sixth-ranked Tigers win again this year, the Bulldogs can look forward to playing arguably the hottest team in the country and one that already beat them by 23 points two weeks ago.

If No. 1-ranked Alabama pulls through as oddsmakers tell us it will, Georgia gets to play the program that equates playing in the SEC title game to stopping by the store for some milk and bread on the way to the playoffs. The Crimson Tide and coach Nick Saban have played in and won in the last three SEC championships.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs still have a little meat on their bone as well. It may be an off year for Georgia Tech (5-5), but history tells us that the Yellow Jackets will make Saturday’s gathering at Grant Field as agonizing as possible, right down to the final cut block and B-back dive. The last four in the series have been decided by an average of one touchdown, and only twice has the game been decided by more than one score in the last nine years.

But regardless of what happens in that endeavor, the Bulldogs will be keeping their appointment in the glistening new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Word is they’ve even cleared a spot next door for some extra parking for all those UGA fans.

So which team does Georgia have the better chance to beat? I’d say the blue-and-orange clad opponent would be best suited for that purpose.

I know, I know. I was there. I saw how Auburn dominated both lines of scrimmage in that last game. The Bulldogs struggled to run the football and stop the run and protect the passer like we’ve seen at no other time this season. I saw Kerryon Johnson running up and down the field all night. Barring injury, I’m assuming coach Gus Malzahn will bring all those guys to Atlanta with him.

But I also suspect the Tigers also will need a couple of extra buses to bring their confidence up I-85 with them as well if they happen to beat the Tide. And that’s not necessarily a good thing. They might be coming with too much.

Auburn also is a different team outside the confines of Jordan-Hare. I’m not sure how evident it was to those watching on television, but I know the folks inside that stadium on that night of Nov. 11th know that team wasn’t going to lose to anybody entering that space. The place was a powder keg, and the Bulldogs lit the fuse with their freakishly ill-timed personal foul penalties and special teams’ gaffes.

This time around, Georgia will hold a neutral-field advantage. By the time the game kicks off (Dec. 2, 4 p.m.), Bulldogs’ fans will have had nearly a month to snap up tickets. And any extra ones floating around after the Iron Bowl surely would be headed for red-and-black hands. Bama fans hold more renewable tickets to the SEC championship game than any other team. In those parts, to pass them over to Auburn fans would be sacrilege.

The word on the street is that Alabama is suddenly vulnerable. The Crimson Tide has lost four linebackers to injuries over the course of the season, the latest two earlier this month. But they still have senior Rashaan Evans, one of the SEC’s best linebackers, and freshman Dylan Moses has played great since being pressed into duty. He’s yet another former 5-star that Bama simply plugged in.

Meanwhile, quarterback Jalen Hurts and that Alabama offense look scary good. The Tide is averaging 43 points a game this season, tops in the league. Yes, Jarrett Stidham and Auburn can move the ball, too, and did against Georgia. They were able to even muster together a few plays beyond Johnson running the ball one way or another. But in terms of having to defend one of these two teams, Hurts and his running ability coupled with Calvin Ridley and everything else the Tide brings to the table makes them to more troublesome of the two.

None of which is to say Georgia doesn’t have a shot against Alabama. I think the Bulldogs have a shot at beating either one of these teams. Against Auburn, they might even be favored.

Against Bama, they’re a decided underdog.

The post Alabama or Auburn: Against which team would the Georgia Bulldogs have best shot? appeared first on DawgNation.

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  • NORMAN, Okla. — Back in the team meeting room they call the Red Room, underneath Oklahoma’s Memorial Stadium, quarterback Baker Mayfield on Thursday met with the local press for the first time since accepting the Heisman Trophy in New York on Saturday. Asked who was the most intriguing person he met during his whirlwind postseason award tour, Mayfield did not hesitate. “Herschel Walker,” the Sooners’ superstar said. Then he gushed. “He looks like he could still play right now,” Mayfield said of Georgia’s greatest tailback of all time. “That’s just impressive. You meet so many special guys, but a guy like that is like a once-in-a-century type of athlete. It was pretty neat.” Reminded that Walker played for the team his Sooners are about to meet in the semifinals of the College Football Playoffs, Mayfield laughed. “That’s OK,” he said. “It’s Herschel Walker. I don’t have to play him, so it’s all right.” That exchange offered a nice glimpse into the persona of Oklahoma’s record-setting quarterback. The dude knows how to work a room and is quite comfortable at a lectern. And he knows how to butter-up an opponent. Mayfield nsists he wasn’t just trying to endear himself to the Bulldog Nation by offering effusive praise about their greatest player of all time. But one started to wonder when he began to gush about the Georgia defense he’ll face when No. 2 Oklahoma faces No. 3 Bulldogs in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. Mayfield was asked if the Sooners’ had faced a comparable defense to Georgia’s this season “They’re the best defense; you can’t compare them to anybody,” he said. “They’re in a league of their own and that’s the reason they’re in the playoffs. They follow behind that defense. You can’t compare them to other people because they’re so talented and they play so well together. To say they’re like anybody else would be downplaying how good they are.” And so it went. If there is going to be any trash-talking in the first-ever meeting between these two powerhouse programs, it wasn’t coming out of the Red Room on Thursday. Led by Mayfield, the Sooners come into the Rose Bowl No. 1 in the nation in total offense at 583.3 yards per game and No. 3 in passing at 367.4. Georgia will counter with the No. 2-rated passing defense (158.3 ypg), tied for third against the score (13.2 ppg) and fourth in total defense (270.9 ypg). Something’s got to give. But that’s what makes it one of the most exciting matchups of the postseason. It’s especially exciting for Oklahoma’s Orlando Brown. The Sooners’ starting left tackle happens to hail from Duluth, where he attended Peachtree Ridge High School. “A lot of those guys in high school tore me up,” said Brown, a consensus All-American as a redshirt junior. “I’m not the same player I was then, so I’m just ready. … I always play with a chip on my shoulder but I’m excited about that. These are guys I’ve known for a long time.” Asked what Georgia players specifically “tore him up” in high school, Brown mentioned Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy. The two seniors start at outside linebacker for the Bulldogs and definitely will get matched up against Brown on occasion if not constantly. “Obviously I played against 7 in high school, Carter,” Brown said. “I think I saw Bellamy at one point at a camp. It’s going to be competitive. They’re great. They play a lot of good ball. Very instinctual, very well-coached. You can tell they make a lot of scheme-related plays and a lot that are not scheme-related. They’re in the playoffs for a reason.” Brown and running back Trey Sermon are the only Sooners who hail from Georgia. Sermon, a freshman from Marietta’s Sprayberry High, rushed for 710 yards and two touchdowns while playing in all 13 games as Rodney Anderson’s backup. Sermon as named to the Big 12’s all-freshman team. Like Georgia, Oklahoma does not allow freshmen to be interviewed. The Sooners certainly don’t need many other voices with Mayfield front and center. The fifth-year senior from Austin, Texas, is as comfortable before cameras and microphones as he is behind that big offensive line that allowed him to throw for 4,340 yards and 41 touchdowns with just 5 interceptions this past season. It’s understandable considering he and Herschel Walker are the only players to have been invited to three consecutive Heisman Trophy Award ceremonies. The third time was the charm for both. Asked what was the best advice he got from his fellow award winners, Mayfield said it was that the national championship remains the better prize. “It was kind of common theme for the guys who were able to win it and play for a national championship,” Mayfield said. “I got the same advice from all of them: This is a special deal but if you can do anything you need to win the big one at the end. I talked to Chris Weinke about that and he’s a guy who lost to OU. So he was speaking from the heart.” So was Mayfield, he’d have you believe. The post Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield gushes about Herschel Walker, Georgia’s defense appeared first on DawgNation.
  • NORMAN, Okla. – The marijuana charges against Natrez Patrick were dropped, we learned Thursday. That’s certainly good for him. It may be good for Georgia football, too, in terms of its pursuit of wins and championships. Ultimately, we don’t know yet exactly what it means. On the surface, one’s left to believe that the Bulldogs’ starting inside linebacker will be reinstated and play against No. 2 Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl in three weeks. But we don’t know that because coach Kirby Smart has yet to weigh in on it. And it’s a bit of a tricky situation when closely evaluated. In the meantime, some charges were dropped out here in Boomer Sooner territory on Thursday, too, and they were much more serious than what Patrick faced. A rape allegation levied against OU running back and leading rusher Rodney Anderson did not result in charges by the local district attorney. The news was shared with local media in a rare news conference by a prosecutor to explain why he wasn’t going to prosecute a case. In a nutshell Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn told reporters that, “after a thorough investigation” that include polygraph tests, interviews of friends of both the accused and the alleged victim and examinations of phone records and texts, “charges are not warranted.” “There are certainly cases where we just simply can’t prove something, so we decline due to insufficient evidence,” Mashburn said. “In this case, I think it’s important for us to tell the whole story so people understand that facts were presented to us through the Norman P.D.’s investigation.” Earlier in the day Thursday, before the D.A.’s announcement, Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley had said that Anderson was “still fully on the team” while authorities continued to investigate the allegations. Riley didn’t issue any other statements after the charges were dropped, and Anderson was not made available after the Sooners’ practice he participated in Thursday. But those in the OU camp expect Anderson to be play against Georgia in the Rose Bowl. “Good for him; he’s a great person,” said Sooners left tackle Orlando Brown, a junior from Duluth. “Hopefully he’ll be able to play in the game.” Likewise, the assumption in Georgia’s camp is that Patrick will be able to play in the Rose Bowl. Smart probably won’t weigh in on this latest development until the Bulldogs’ Rose Bowl media day Monday. Georgia has yet to begin its Rose Bowl preparations, and there won’t be any interview access until then. But it might not be as cut-and-dried as it seems. While we know that Patrick doesn’t face any legal ramifications, we don’t know for certain that there won’t be any team repercussions. Patrick already had violated UGA’s marijuana-use policy twice due to previous marijuana arrests, hence his four-game suspension in the middle third of the regular season. A third calls for dismissal from the team. We do know from the body-cam footage provided by police that Patrick was in a car with a teammate who was was either actively smoking or had just smoked marijuana. Jayson Stanley, also a starter as a wide receiver, had DUI charges against him dropped  Thursday but is still charged with misdemeanor possession. So we assume he’ll be subjected to UGA’s first-strike pot policy, which is a one-game suspension in football. That the one game is the College Football Playoff and the Rose Bowl makes it particularly painful. What we don’t know is whether Patrick had to undergo any kind of testing as a result of the encounter. Usually a student-athlete who has had more than one violation is subject to counseling and intensified drug-testing. Perhaps Patrick already has successfully cleared that, or he could be awaiting results. We can’t be sure. We’ll know for sure in 18 days when Georgia and Oklahoma kick off in the Rose Bowl. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, these off-field issues have been the one downside to an otherwise magical season. While they’ve been piling up wins and points this year, they also have been piling up arrests and disciplinary issues. Duly noting that this latest charge against Patrick was dismissed, there are still 14 known arrests of Georgia football players going back to last season. The latest came earlier this week when freshman defensive back Latavious Brini was jailed on a first-degree forgery charge. It was for an incident that allegedly occurred back in July, or shortly after he arrived from Miami. He hasn’t played this season and is therefore set to be redshirted, but neither Georgia nor Smart has commented on his status just yet either. Generally, UGA student-athletes charged with a felony are immediately suspended on a temporary basis until their legal matter is worked out. The arrest ledger also counts the case of D’Antne Demery, a signee who had his scholarship revoked after he was charged with battery/domestic violence against his girlfriend in April. I don’t know why Demery wouldn’t be included in such an accounting since he already had signed his national letter-of-intent two months before he was jailed in Athens. Most of the other arrests seem relatively trivial, depending on your personal sensibilities. Most of them involve pot. Tailback Elijah Holyfield and wide receiver Riley Ridley also were arrested earlier this year and subsequently suspended for single games for misdemeanor marijuana possession. But 14 is a high number of legal run-ins no matter how one slices it. That begs the question: Does Georgia have a discipline problem on this team? I know that last sentence makes you cringe. It does me, too. There is so much good going on for UGA, nobody wants to throw water on it. But that question bears asking. It’s only fair. Former Georgia coach Mark Richt came under sharp criticism for a perceived lack of discipline during his UGA tenure. It reached a peak when the Bulldogs incurred 11 arrests from March to October of 2010. Then he cracked down. Georgia had only one arrest in 2011 when Cornelius Washington was charged with DUI. There were some isolated incidences and some serious offenses that followed, but they were dealt with harshly. Bulldogs fans don’t need to be reminded that several dismissals occurred from 2012 to 2015. Smart is a coach who preaches discipline on the first line of his mission statement. He expends a lot of time and energy talking about poise and composure. Nevertheless, the Bulldogs were flagged for nine personal fouls in their two games against Auburn (they seem to have a thing for face masks in particular, don’t they?). Georgia enters the postseason as the fourth-most penalized team in the SEC. Is there a connection there? Who knows. Certainly most good football players are aggressive by nature. Arrests numbers and penalty numbers are facts, but the assertion that Georgia is an undisciplined team is not. That’s subjective and speculative at this point. And what has been going on here at Oklahoma proves that UGA is not alone in fighting that perception. It’s not just what proved to be false accusations against the Sooners’ current running back. Lest we forget, quarterback Baker Mayfield, who accepted the Heisman Trophy on Saturday, was arrested in February in Fayetteville, Ark., for public intoxication, disorderly conduct and fleeing police. But the Bulldogs need to do better. Obviously, Georgia is a very, very good football team under Smart. Based on recruiting, it appears that will continue if not get even better. But the disciplinary issues need to trend in the other direction, even if you care about nothing other than what happens on the football field. The post Natrez Patrick gets good news, but Georgia needs to tighten up on discipline front appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Georgia junior inside linebacker Natrez Patrick got some good news on Thursday. According to ESPN’s Mark Schlabach, Patrick had his marijuana possession charge dropped after his arrest the same night as the SEC Championship game. Patrick now likely will not face the consequences of his third suspsension for marijuana Jayson Stanley also had one of his charges dropped, according to Schlabach.   The post Report: Natrez Patrick has charges dropped after recent arrest appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Rose Bowl fever is sweeping across the UGA campus and Wednesday one quick-witted student scored free tickets to the game. A time-honored tradition at the University of Georgia is to ring the Chapel Bell after a Bulldogs victory. On this day, it got junior Carter Glenn two seats. 'Unbelievable! I am so excited. Now I have to make my travel plans to get out there,” Glenn said. Rose Bowl officials were on campus giving away tickets to the big game. It was a contest of sorts.They tweeted clues all morning long, like “Where does a UGA fan go after the Bulldogs win?” RELATED STORIES: Kirby Smart vs. Lincoln Riley: Breaking down the Rose Bowl coaches JAKE FROMM: From AJC Super 11 to the College Football Playoff Breakdown of how Georgia has fared against Heisman Trophy winners 'So for the final tweet today, we had a tweet saying where we were and to ring the Chapel Bell and yell 'Rose Bowl.' That's how the winner got it,” Rose Bowl spokesperson Karen Linhart said. Carter is taking fellow student Jack Glenn with him to Pasadena. Jack happens to be his brother. 'Two months ago I told my dad if the team goes to the Rose Bowl, we gotta go, so it's pretty cool,” junior Jack Glenn said. The Glenn brothers had a strategy to win the tickets: They split up. 'You know, North Campus is more scenic, so we'll stay around here. He took the South part.I took the North part and it just worked out,” Carter Glenn said. Rose Bowl officials gave away another pair of tickets a few hours later. On Thursday, they’ll do the same thing at the University of Oklahoma.
  • By Georgia Sports Communications ATHENS, Ga. --- Georgia junior linebacker Roquan Smith has now been included on the All-America First Team by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) FBS Coaches’, the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), Sporting News, Walter Camp and the Associated Press. Smith, a native of Montezuma, Ga., becomes the fourth Bulldog over the last 20 years to earn unanimous NCAA First Team All-America honors joining Champ Bailey (1998), Drew Butler (2009) and Jarvis Jones (2011-12). In addition, senior offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn and senior tailback Nick Chubb were named to the AFCA All-America Second Team and Wynn was also an AP and College Football Madness Second Team All-American. Also of note, quarterback Jake Fromm and right tackle Andrew Thomas garnered ESPN Freshman All-America honors this week. Smith has also been named a First Team All-American by ESPN, SI.com, Bleacher Report, College Football Madness and The All-American while Wynn was also on the Bleacher Report’s First Team. Smith became the first Bulldog to win the Butkus Award this season, which is given to the nation’s most outstanding linebacker. He was also a finalist for the Nagurski Trophy and Bednarik Award, which are given to the country’s most dominant defensive player. Wynn, a native of St. Petersburg, Fla., Chubb, a native of Cedartown, Ga., Fromm, a native of Warner Robins, Ga., and Thomas, a native of Lithonia, Ga., directed an offense that has averaged the Southeastern Conference’s third-best scoring offense (34.9 ppg) this season while posting the nation’s seventh-best rate for third down conversions (47 percent).  The Bulldogs captured their first SEC title since 2005 and went an undefeated 6-0 versus teams from the league’s Eastern Division for the first time since the SEC split into divisions in 1992. The third-seeded Bulldogs (12-1) travel to Pasadena, Calif., to face second-seeded Oklahoma (12-1) in the College Football Playoff’s semifinal round in the Rose Bowl Game on Monday, January 1. Kickoff is at 5:10 p.m. ET.