There will come a day when the Auburn Tigers walk out of Sanford Stadium victorious.
Today was not that day. And frankly, it may be awhile.
Because the Tigers have some rebuilding to do. It’s hard to say precisely at what point the Bryan Harsin experiment came to an end on the Plains. I for one think it may have been the moment Stetson Bennett went 64 yards untouched to the end zone to put this one definitively out of reach. I’m not sure you come back from that.
The Mailman wasn’t the only one who had success on the ground against the Tigles. Georgia followed a pair of stunted offensive performances with a 500 yard offensive explosion, with 292 of the yards coming on the ground. Stet’s touchdown scamper was the longest run of the day, in what was otherwise a workmanlike performance. The Red and Black averaged 7.5 yards per carry on the ground, a season high. In the absence of Kendall Milton and with Kenny McIntosh still nursing a thigh bruise, freshman Branson Robinson had the biggest day of his career, exploding for runs of 23 and 30 yards on the way to a 10 carry, 98 yard day.
There are still things to work on offensively. Stetson Bennett finished 22 of 32 for 208 yards but once again was obviously not in synch with his receivers. Georgia had only three pass plays of over 20 yards, and missed at least that many on balls the Pride of Pierce County simply didn’t put where they needed to be. Some of that is likely the right shoulder that took a beating last week against Missouri, but I’m not sure that’s all of it.
Still, the Classic City Canines took six trips inside the red zone and turned those into five touchdowns, a nice departure from their recent struggles near the goal line.
Auburn came into this one a hot mess on offense and they left with the same chaotic energy. Plainsmen quarterback Robbie Ashford was a wild 13 of 38 passing, which felt more successful in some ways because his completions went for an average of 12.9 yards apiece. Ashford was running for his life almost from the first snap, but to his credit didn’t really seem to fall apart. However a 5 of 17 effort on 3rd down and a whopping 10 penalties were enough to negate any heroics.
If the Tigers were going to pull the upset here they needed to shorten the game by running the ball effectively. They did the opposite. Vaunted tailback Tank Bigsby finished with 10 carries for 19 yards, never really getting free of swarming Bulldog tacklers. Bigsby has struggled behind a line that hasn’t opened holes all year. But he may have gotten even less help than usual this afternoon.
Those 19 yards were the fewest Bigsby has had in a game since his college debut against Kentucky in 2020. Today was the first time in his college career that heMs averaged less than 2.0 yards per carry. Auburn’s bad on the ground. Georgi made them look it.
While the performance wasn’t necessarily as dominating as the lopsided score would indicate, it was the type of workmanlike dispatching of a lesser opponent that this Georgia team needed. Georgia played well. They will need to play better. Still, it never feels bad to beat the Aubbies. Until later…