ATLANTA, GA. (WSFA) - The Dec. 2 meeting between No. 2 Auburn (10-3) and No. 6 Georgia (12-1) had a much different outcome than the Nov. 11 one. In part two of the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry, it was the Dawgs who came out on top, a 28-7 final in Saturday's SEC Championship game.
The game's opening looked promising for Auburn. The Tigers, who received the opening kick, put together a methodical 10-play drive spanning 75 yards that ended in a touchdown pass from Jarrett Stidham to Nate Craig-Myers. This was the highlight of Stidham's passing day as the Auburn quarterback only passed for 145 yards, completing 16-of-32 passes.
The Auburn defense also looked in control early. On Georgia's opening possession, the suffocating defensive line that is the Auburn Tigers recorded back-to-back sacks on Georgia freshman quarterback Jake Fromm, forcing a punt.
Untimely fumbles from the Auburn offense was also an issue Saturday, as both teams exhibited sloppy play.
The first of those Auburn fumbles came in the second quarter with the Auburn offense in the Georgia red zone. Stidham was attempting to escape the pressure in the pocket, when unknowingly Georgia defensive player Davin Bellamy knocked the ball loose from Stidham while tackling him and the Dawgs recovered.
Off that turnover, the Georgia offense capitalized, using an 83-yard drive to drive the field before Fromm connected with tight end Isaac Nauta from 2-yards out to tie the game.
Auburn went three and out on its next possession and Georgia gained the lead, adding a field goal to go up by three.
Georgia would take that three-point lead into halftime, and from there it would only get worse for the Auburn Tigers.
After forcing Georgia to punt to open the second half, Auburn looked poised to tie the game, but a blocked field goal by Georgia prevented that from happening. Two drives later, now down by six, star running back Kerryon Johnson stumbled on a run and Georgia defenders knocked the ball loose, forcing another Auburn turnover as the ball was recovered by Georgia. It was a quiet day for Johnson as he only rushed for 44 yards in the loss on just 13 carries.
Georgia again converted on an Auburn turnover. In just four plays, the Dawgs were back in the end zone. Fromm to Terry Goodwin this time to open the fourth quarter, and after the two-point conversion the Georgia Bulldogs held a 21-7 lead over Auburn.
By the start of the fourth quarter in the Nov. 11 meeting, Auburn had built a 30-10 lead. Now on the unsavory end on Saturday, the Tigers looked to answer but the Georgia defense was just too tough, forcing an Auburn punt. In fact, after Auburn's opening touchdown drive, the Tigers only had a drive exceed 50 yards two of their remaining 10 drives of the game.
Georgia put the final nail in the coffin with a long 64-yard touchdown run from running back D'Andre Smith. Smith led the three-headed rushing attack for Georgia with 88 yards rushing. Nick Chubb recorded 77 yards and Sonny Michel 45 yards in Saturday's game after Georgia only rushed for 46 yards in the Nov. 11 meeting.
By game's end, Kirby Smart had led the Bulldogs to the SEC Championship title in just his second season as head coach. Georgia is also the first SEC East team the win the SEC Championship since the 2008 Florida Gators. All that team did was go on to win the BCS National Championship over Oklahoma.
Auburn's seven points were the lowest for the Tigers since scoring just six points against Clemson earlier this season. This loss almost definitely ends Auburn's hopes of being the four-team playoff.