Two teams' hopes of reaching the Southeastern Conference championship game will be on the line when No. 9 Auburn hosts Georgia on Saturday. The upstart Tigers, who have won six straight and are coming off a 55-23 victory at Tennessee, need a win to set up a de facto SEC West title game with rival Alabama on Nov. 30. The Bulldogs' title dreams are dimmer - they need to win their two remaining conference games and have Missouri lose twice to claim SEC East.
The Tigers are one of the biggest surprises in the country, rising from 2-8 a year ago to a team harboring slim national championship aspirations if they can knock off Georgia and Alabama and get some help via upsets of other highly-ranked teams. "At this point in the season, they're all big games," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn told reporters. "We're playing of the top teams in the country before they got injured. … They've got one of the better quarterbacks to ever play in the SEC." That quarterback is Aaron Murray, who became the SEC's all-time leader in touchdown passes (115) in last week's 45-6 win over Appalachian State and also is the league's career leader in total offense (12,896 yards) and passing yards (12,568).
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Auburn -4.
ABOUT GEORGIA (6-3, 4-2 SEC): Injuries derailed the Bulldogs' high hopes entering the season, but they're inching closer to full strength. Most notably, star running back Todd Gurley (104.2 rushing yards per game) is back in the mix after missing three games with an ankle injury. Georgia's defense has been maligned but actually ranks 20th in the nation against the run (126 yards per game), presenting a favorable matchup against Auburn.
ABOUT AUBURN (9-1, 5-1): The Tigers' ascent has been spurred by the nation's No. 3 rushing attack at 320 yards per game, and it's not just one player leading it. Tre Mason ranks second in the league with 1,038 rushing yards to go with 16 rushing touchdowns, and quarterback Nick Marshall (734 yards, seven TDs) and running backs Cameron Artis-Payne (568 yards, five TDs) and Corey Grant (504 yards, four TDs) can also do damage on the ground. Auburn ranks second in the SEC in red-zone defense, turning opponents away without points on nine of 32 trips and forcing field goals on nine others.
1. The matchup is billed as the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry, as the border rivals meet for the 117th time overall and the 70th consecutive season. The series is tied at 54-54-8, but the Bulldogs have won six of the last seven.
2. Auburn has scored at least 30 points in six straight games, it's longest streak since 2004. The Tigers have won 85 consecutive games when scoring 30 or more.
3. Murray needs 25 completions to tie Chris Leak (895) for the most in SEC history and needs to account for 16 more touchdowns to match Tim Tebow (145) for the league mark.
PREDICTION: Auburn 34, Georgia 30