5. Georgia vs. 12. Auburn
As has been said a million times and has been proven true many times as well, beating a team twice in the same season is no easy task. Thus, taking into account that the Georgia Bulldogs defeated the Auburn Tigers when they met in mid-November is likely not going to matter in how things would play out in a rematch in the 16-team bracket. Having said that, what we saw in that game does tell us a lot about this matchup.
In that first game, there were two things that stood out for Georgia. First was the fact that the offense was predicated upon riding a superstar running back in D’Andre Swift while Jake Fromm was asked to take what was given to him and not make mistakes. That worked to perfection. More importantly, though, the Bulldogs put their run defense on the table and asked freshman quarterback Bo Nix to beat them.
Nix did not perform terribly in that regular-season matchup. The young Auburn quarterback went 30-for-50 for 245 yards and one touchdown while taking 13 carries for 42 yards and a touchdown. However, the Tigers are at their best when they are able to run the ball effectively outside of Nix and the Bulldogs completely negated that as the quarterback was their leading rusher on the day.
Though Georgia would almost surely not be able to jump out to a 21-point lead as they did in the first matchup, I still believe the Dawgs could execute the same gameplan with the personnel they have. It would be another relatively ugly and low-scoring affair but Kirby Smart’s team would be able to pull off a coup in beating Auburn twice in the same year.
Winner: Georgia Bulldogs