Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, November 15, 2013 at 10:00 AM
As late as mid-October, nobody was giving the Auburn Tigers a second thought in either the SEC East, SEC Championship, or BCS races. They entered the season as a non-contender under new head coach Gus Malzahn. Maybe they would develop into something down the road. This year? Well, they barely beat Mississippi State and lost to LSU in September. Off the radar for anything IMPORTANT!
Then…the went to College Station, TX and beat the Aggies of Texas A&M as 12-point underdogs. Great win! But, we know the Aggies have gone backwards this year on defense. Everyone took that as a sign of the Aggies decline rather than a red flag that Auburn had caught fire.
Two weeks ago, Auburn won at Arkansas 35-17 to cover as touchdown favorites. Again, great result. But…a lot of teams are bullying Arkansas this year.
Last week, you may have watched Auburn roll up 55 points on Tennessee with playmakers on offense and special teams seemingly bursting at the seams. But, again, Tennessee just got throttled by Missouri. You can be better than Arkansas and Tennessee and still not matter in the SEC. Yet…when you step back and look at the recent resume, you get this:
*Auburn has won SIX STRAIGHT games and is 9-1 for the season
*Auburn has COVERED SEVEN STRAIGHT games, and is 8-2 ATS for the season
*Auburn has topped 350 rushing yards in four of the last five games (RUSHING!)
They are suddenly very much for real in an SEC that wasn’t quite as strong and deep as the media (and coaches) were leading everyone to believe back in August. And, the Tigers could certainly crash a whole lot of parties because their only two remaining regular season games are at home against Georgia and then #1 Alabama after a bye week.
*Auburn wins the SEC East because of a tie-breaker head-to-head over Alabama
*Auburn would play in the SEC Championship game against probably Missouri
*Auburn could turn a 3-0 finish into a legit shot at the BCS title game because beating Alabama would carry so much weight
In that context, Saturday afternoon’s Georgia/Auburn game nationally televised on CBS looms very large indeed. Even if Auburn loses, you have to have them on your short list of teams who are going to matter in this year’s bowls and the 2014 season. If Auburn wins…then the Iron Bowl on November 30 vs. Alabama is going to be for a whole lot of marbles. Marbles Auburn may be fast enough to scoop up against a team that may have forgotten how to fear them.
Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Here’s a quick review of how Georgia and Auburn have performance since the end of September. We’re far enough away from that first month now that the results shouldn’t carry too much handicapping weight. From this point forward in our game previews, we’ll mostly be looking at recent form rather than the full season.
SUMMARY SINCE END OF SEPTEMBER
Georgia (-13) won at Tennessee 34-31 in OT (winning yardage 434-404)
Georgia (-7) lost to Missouri 41-26 (winning yardage 454-375)
Georgia (-7) lost at Vanderbilt 31-27 (losing yardage 211-337)
Georgia (-3) beat Florida 23-20 (winning yardage 414-319)
Georgia (-39) beat Appalachian State 45-6 (winning yardage 568-253)
Georgia was supposed to be a national championship contender. Injuries made that a virtual impossibility. Then, the losses to Missouri and Vanderbilt (making three after the season opening loss at Clemson) turned Georgia into a dangerous floater at best. They could certainly play spoiler Saturday. And, they’ll be a favorite to make a statement win in a bowl game.
Auburn (+3) beat Ole Miss 30-22 (losing yardage 375-464)
Auburn (-41) beat Western Carolina 62-3 (winning yardage 712-173)
Auburn (+12) won at Texas A&M 45-41 (winning yardage 615-602)
Auburn (-24) beat Florida Atlantic 45-10 (winning yardage 627-247)
Auburn (-7) won at Arkansas 35-17 (winning yardage 366-346)
Auburn (-7) won at Tennessee 55-23 (winning yardage 479-354)
That’s not exactly a murderer’s row. But…run your finger down the offensive numbers for the Tigers. They topped 600 yards in three straight games…and their return men are capable of piling up big yardage returns that don’t show up in “total offense.” That’s how they made it to 55 points last week at Tennessee.
Current Vegas Line: Auburn by 3.5, total of 62.5
The game opened at Auburn -3. Sharps bet the favorite immediately because they recognize how much this team has improved in recent weeks. And, they know that Georgia often finds ways to lose close games! The number hasn’t moved beyond the 3.5 yet. But, the fact that it didn’t bounce back down to the key number tells you that sharps liked Auburn rather than just bet the percentage on a favorite off a key number.
Should Auburn be even higher? We’re talking about a team that’s covered 80% of the time this year because the market hasn’t believed in them. JIM HURLEY has always had a knack for knowing when to ride a hot horse, and knowing when to dismount. This game could very easily be a big part of the Saturday slate. Be sure you check out the available packages Saturday morning to see who the final qualifiers were. If you have any questions about service, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 Friday afternoon or Saturday before kickoff of the early games.
Back with you tomorrow to discuss Stanford at USC in Saturday’s top prime time matchup. Then we’ll look at Green Bay/NY Giants and New England/Carolina in the NFL prime time games Sunday and Monday in our regularly scheduled entries.
Don’t sleep on this weekend’s college football action. JIM HURLEY has some SLEEPERS and SHOCKERS that are going to STUN VEGAS!