Georgia’s reign as the top team in college football is over, for now. It was two weeks long—14 weeks, in Dawg years—and the cause of some controversy. The College Football Playoff committee decided Georgia’s undefeated record was better than Alabama’s undefeated record. The AP and Coaches polls didn’t agree.
But there’s no need for that argument now, after 10th-ranked Auburn walloped the Bulldogs, 40-17, their first win over Georgia since the Prayer at Jordan-Hare. Up 30, Auburn’s stadium played “Crank That” by Soulja Boy.
It’s a decade-old dance sensation, but everybody went wild, because every Auburn fan remembered when Knowshon Moreno and the Dawgs Supermanned a little too excessively 10 years ago. It’s called the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. History is important here.
Georgia must not have liked being no. 1 very much, because they gleefully assisted Auburn’s upset bid. The Bulldogs kindly refused to accept the Tigers’ attempts to give them the football twice in the first half, negating one Auburn punt with a leaping penalty and muffing a second punt. Those two plays preceded Auburn’s first two touchdowns, and Auburn’s third touchdown came after Georgia committed a personal foul while covering a punt of their own. Through punt mishaps alone, Georgia helped the Tigers get 21 points; they only scored 17 of their own.
But even if we ignore those Bulldog kindnesses, Auburn dominated. The Tigers defense was easily the best the Bulldogs had faced all year, better than Notre Dame’s by any metric, and Georgia struggled with it. True freshman quarterback Jake Fromm went just 13-for-28 passing, and the phenomenal running-back pairing of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel combined for just 48 yards on 20 carries.
Georgia still has a path to the national championship; they’re still headed to the SEC Championship game because the SEC East is a wasteland. The division is so stunted outside of Georgia that the Dawgs booked their ticket to Atlanta with almost a month left in the season (it’s noteworthy that Georgia’s first loss came against a team from the good half of the SEC). If Georgia finishes the season with wins against Kentucky (easy) and Georgia Tech (slightly harder) and a win in the conference title game, then the Dawgs are still a playoff team.
But now the question becomes who they’ll play in Atlanta. The Iron Bowl is always a season-defining event for Alabamans, but once again, the entire nation will have to pay attention to Alabama-Auburn—a game whose winner has appeared in seven of the last eight national championship games. The Tide remain undefeated, and the Tigers only have one SEC loss. A win over Alabama, and the Tigers will face Georgia again.
Is Auburn good enough to beat Bama? Well, the Tigers just demolished a team whose résumé convinced the College Football Playoff committee to slot them ahead of Bama. And after Saturday’s thumping, Auburn would have to feel good about a rematch with Georgia.
Imagine if Auburn wins out. The playoff committee has never taken a two-loss team, but if Auburn beats two no. 1 teams (one of them twice?!), they’d be the greatest agents of chaos in college football history. I root for chaos, so now, I’m rooting for you, Auburn.