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CFB: Georgia Bulldogs @ Auburn tigers

by: Rich Salvatori @dickiesalvatori - posted on: 11-Nov-2013

The Bulldogs of Georgia head to the state of Alabama to take on what has become perhaps the most unique offense in college football this season.

Gus Malzahn has turned the Tigers of Auburn around far more quickly than anyone would have expected, and a lot of it has to do with an aggressive, power running game that features multiple backs and a super athletic quarterback in Nick Marshall.

For Georgia, their defense has been down a lot this season. They were gashed in several match ups and have been working with a lot of youth in their secondary.

The majority of their issues stem from issues in the passing game, and that's good news here. Auburn has put the ball in the air more than ten times on only 4 occasions. They have dominated opponents in an absurd way given the fact that most teams in this offense crazed era muster their points through complex passing attacks.

Georgia has young players in their defense, but those bodies have also become wiser as the season has gone on. Their defensive line is very solid and their linebackers are excellent in going side to side.

Typically, you look at a group of athletes like the Bulldog defense and assume they have enough to deal with a spread look. But Auburn's offense is so unique, it's a complete uncertainty as to what it truly is. 

Looking back at the Tennessee tape, you see the Tigers line up in diamond formations, different pistol sets with multiple bodies in the backfield, etc. 

Malzahn is an absolute genius when it comes to play calling, but Georgia is an interesting opponent here. Georgia is excellent against the run. I'm not saying it will be easy for them to stop Auburn, but I do fully expect them to be capable of at least limiting and neutralizing Nick Marshall, Tre Mason and company.

The other major plus they have in their favor is their offense. Aaron Murray struggled through several weeks of mediocre play, a factor that has clouded the perception surrounding the Bulldog program.

Murray was dealing with an absurd amount of injuries to other members of this offense (as alluded to prior to the Vanderbilt loss), and has since gotten several key bodies back, most notably Michael Bennett, a 6'3, 220 pound workhorse of a receiver who can run a variety of different routes.

Todd Gurley has also been back for two games. He carried the load against Florida two weeks ago, but had the day off in a sense in their last game with Appalachian State. He carried it only 13 times and did not play much in the second half. 

Gurley can be even more lethal in this offense because, due to continued limitations regarding options in the passing game, Mark right seems to be working to get Gurley touches in space through the air. Murray is the cerebral sort of player who is more than comfortable in checking down when necessary.

For both Gurley and Murray, this is their last big opportunity to shake things up. They have had magical seasons (when healthy), and Murray was a big time Heisman candidate prior to his offense falling apart.

Saturday marks the last chance they have to put a real signature imprint on their year. Knocking off the Tigers prior to the Iron Bowl would be beyond chaotic for the SEC West. It would also put Georgia back into a position where they could still theoretically have a chance to win the SEC East, although it would be difficult. Either way, a 3 loss team is better than a 4 loss team when it comes time for bowls to make selections.

But don't expect Aaron Murray to be thinking about any of that. The senior has played unbelievable well this year. In light of the all the attention afford to A.J. McCarron, Johnny Manziel, Missouri's rise and virtually every other SEC topic that has taken the hype away from him, I expect a motivated young man to "let it all hang out" in this one.

Murray (and more importantly, Murray and Gurley together) have the ability to put together long and methodical drives against an Auburn defense that has holes. Rajon Neal of Tennessee was running very ell against the Tigers. Unfortunately, the Vols were forced to abandon the run game when they got down big. I don't expect that to happen here, and believe that Georgia should be able to actually have the upper hand in controlling the clock.

This line is being floated at 3.5/4. It's a fair price, but there is also value on a dog that, just weeks ago, graded out much better than their current opponents. 

Auburn is very good, and no one is trying to dispute that. But with an almost absurd 80% of backers supporting the home favorite, it's a bit odd to see a spread as small as the one currently offered. Vegas knows the 'Dogs do not need any more points, and 4 could even be a bargain given that Georgia holds an advantage at the most important of positions: quarterback.

Georgia +4