How do I love beating Auburn? Let me count the ways. . . .
Kregg Lumpkin gained 105 yards on just 21 carries, averaging 5.0 yards per scamper and scoring a touchdown. Brannan Southerland had seven carries of his own, punching in another score, and Matthew Stafford managed to turn his seven rushes into 83 yards and a T.D. Danny Ware tacked on another 20 yards on his eight runs, as well.
Perhaps someone should tell Tommy Tuberville that you have to run the ball if you want to be able to win in the S.E.C.
Auburn's leading rusher, Courtney Taylor, picked up his yards on a pair of reverses, making his way to the outside because the middle was so bottled up that neither Kenny Irons nor Brad Lester picked up as many as 50 yards on the ground. All told, the Red and Black outrushed the Plainsmen by a 227-136 margin . . . and, of course, those figures were helped a bit by the fact that Stafford was never tackled for a loss, while Brandon Cox was sacked four times.
The Bulldogs were pass-catching machines. Seven different 'Dawgs had receptions on the afternoon, led by Mohamed Massaquoi and Martrez Milner, with three grabs apiece. Lumpkin caught the Classic City Canines' only touchdown pass, but a trio of Georgia receivers had catches that covered 25 yards or more. Stafford connected on 14 of his 20 tosses, tallying 219 yards and a T.D. without throwing so much as a single interception.
Cox, by contrast, had a frustrating day, as evidenced by the fact that he lost his temper and shoved the latest in a long line of Georgia defenders to have planted the Auburn quarterback into the Jordan-Hare Stadium turf.
Reportedly, Brandon Cox became irate when Quentin Moses kept telling him how much he looked like Roman Polanski.
The Tigers' leading receiver was Tra Battle, who caught three passes for 69 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately for Auburn, Battle is a Bulldog. Between Battle's three picks and Paul Oliver's interception, players in the Georgia secondary grabbed as many of Cox's tosses as Auburn receivers did.
Cox completed just four of his 12 passes to players wearing blue jerseys. No War Eagle receiver caught more than a single pass and half of the Tigers' completions went for negative yardage. A 34-yard touchdown strike to Rodgeriqus Smith was the lone highlight in Cox's 35-yard passing total.
Kody Bliss had a bad day as the Auburn punter, but Gordon Ely-Kelso performed well, booting his lone punt for 55 yards and connecting on a 34-yard field goal attempt.
Georgia led in first downs (20-9), total net yards (446-171), time of possession (38:12-21:48), and total offensive plays (66-41). The 'Dawgs converted eight of their 14 third-down attempts and Auburn did not pick up the requisite yardage on any of their seven third-down tries.
All that was missing was Uga taking a bite out of one of those academically challenged cheaters.
The game wasn't perfect, of course. One of Ely-Kelso's five extra point attempts was blocked. Georgia lost three fumbles. The Bulldogs were penalized eight times for 49 yards. The Plainsmen's Tristan Davis brought back five kickoffs and averaged almost 26 yards per return.
Also, without being overly technical, Georgia once again was outscored in the second half, by an 8-7 margin . . . although I do not intend to fault Willie Martinez for that fact, since the only reason the Bulldogs didn't win the battle of the second half on the scoreboard is that Mark Richt was too classy to run it up, preferring instead to kneel out as much of the clock as he could and turn the ball over to Auburn with scant seconds remaining and over 90 yards of real estate in front of the home team.
We should have seen this one coming. Mark Richt's Bulldog teams always put it all together, seemingly out of nowhere, for one game that the 'Dawgs aren't supposed to win, but do, or that is supposed to be close and turns into a blowout.
It's a Mark Richt thing; you wouldn't understand.
In 2001, Georgia wasn't supposed to compete with Tennessee . . . yet the Red and Black won in Knoxville for the first time since 1980.
In 2002, the season-ending showdown with Georgia Tech was supposed to be competitive . . . but it turned out to be the worst whipping the Red and Black ever administered to the Ramblin' Wreck.
In 2003, the Tennessee game was supposed to be a toss-up . . . although the Bulldogs wound up hammering the Big Orange by a 41-14 final margin.
In 2004, Georgia and L.S.U. were supposed to be matched evenly . . . and the home team wound up throttling the Bayou Bengals by a 45-16 score.
In 2005, the S.E.C. championship game was supposed to be a slugfest . . . however, the Bulldogs had other ideas, winning by 20 points.
In 2006, the Red and Black were supposed to face an uphill battle on the Plains . . . though the Tigers got skunked instead.
I hate Auburn.
There have been some games that went the other way, as well, in which Georgia played down to the level of lesser competition or came out flat against a team that was better than expected. Every year, though, we know a Mark Richt-coached team is good for one stunner and we ought to have known to expect it this season, as well.
Where, then, do we go from here? Well, with apologies for departing from the spirit of civil dialogue with my readers, I feel the need to call someone out for something foolish that he posted here at Dawg Sports.
Yeah, I'm talking about the bozo who wrote that Georgia shouldn't go to a bowl game. What a dufus that guy was. I'm sorry, but that guy needs to be told a thing or two.
What's that? That was me? No, that can't be right, can it? Surely I wouldn't have . . .
Could I be a bigger idiot?
Hang on, my bad, I just checked and you're right . . . that was me.
I'm sure I didn't mean that, though. In fact, one of you must have interrupted me. That's it . . . you just didn't allow me to finish my thought.
What I was saying was that I didn't think Georgia should accept a bowl bid . . . unless it was to a January 1 game. That's what I meant to say.
All right, New Year's Day may be a bit ambitious . . . but with an open date in which to heal up and get ready to host a Georgia Tech team that has spent the last five weeks struggling with such powerhouses as Maryland, Clemson, Miami, N.C. State, and North Carolina, the 'Dawgs have a very good shot at an 8-4 finish and a decent bowl bid . . . maybe even a chance to renew their rivalry with Clemson in the Peach Bowl.
"Look at the chicken sandwiches falling out of the sky! Look at the chicken sandwiches falling out of the sky!"
For now, though, let's enjoy the week off and celebrate the big win over Georgia's oldest and most bitter rival. A week ago, all appeared lost . . . but it now appears that the Bulldogs' downcycle was a seven-week slump that produced a 3-4 record and a trio of close losses before the Red and Black bounced back and began playing like they were capable of playing.
If the Georgia team that showed up against Auburn yesterday afternoon takes the field against Georgia Tech and in the bowl game, the Bulldogs will finish 9-4, with wins over two of their four biggest rivals (and three out of five, if you count South Carolina). In the process, the Red and Black will have found their quarterback of the future and put in place the building blocks for runs at conference and national honors over the next couple or three seasons.
Not bad for a rebuilding year.
(Note: Travis Rice, my former "Dawg Show" co-host, called me right after yesterday's game ended and some of the jokes in this posting were stolen from remarks Trav made during our conversation, so, if any of the foregoing made you laugh, there's better than half a chance that he deserves the credit.)