UGA Football: Game Notes – Georgia Rematch With Auburn in SEC Championship
SEC Championship – The Georgia Bulldogs vs. The Auburn Tigers
GAME & BROADCAST INFO
- Game 13: SEC Championship – Georgia Bulldogs vs. Auburn Tigers
- Kickoff: Saturday, December 2 – 4:00 p.m. ET
- Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium (73,000) – Atlanta, Ga.
- 2017 Records: Georgia 11-1 (7-1 SEC), Auburn 10-2 (7-1 SEC)
- 2016 Records: Georgia 8-5 (4-4 SEC), Auburn 8-5 (5-3 SEC)
- Rankings: Georgia #6/6, Auburn #4/4
- TV: CBS – Brad Nessler (PxP), Gary Danielson (analyst), Allie LaForce (sideline)
- Video Stream: CBSSports.com
- Radio: WSB AM 750 – Bulldog Network | Affiliates | Scott Howard (PxP), Eric Zeier (Color), Chuck Dowdle (sideline)
- Audio Stream: georgiadogs.com | Mobile
- Satellite: Sirius 137, XM 190
- Web Stats: TBA
- Twitter: SECChampionship and UGAvsAUB
- ReBroadcast: SEC Network: TBA
*ranks No. 5 nationally; ^ranks No. 9 nationally
Georgia is making its sixth appearance in the SEC Championship Game and first since 2012. The Bulldogs have won 12 SEC Championships with the most recent one coming in 2005. That tally ranks third in league history behind Alabama (26) and Tennessee (13). A Georgia victory in the SEC Championship would likely give the Bulldogs their fourth appearance in a CFP/BCS-type bowl game.
The winner of the SEC Championship Game automatically qualifies for a spot in the Peach, Cotton or Fiesta Bowls if that team is not selected to participate in the four-team College Football Playoff. This year, the CFP has semifinal games at the Sugar and Rose Bowls and the national championship will be played in Atlanta on Monday, January 8.
2002: #4 Georgia defeats #22 Arkansas 30-3// Sugar: Beat No. 16 Florida State 26-13
2003: #3 LSU defeats #5 Georgia 34-13// Capital One: Beat No. 12 Purdue 34-27 (ot)
2005: #13 Georgia defeats #3 LSU 34-14// Sugar: Lost to No. 11 West Va. 38-35
2011: #1 LSU defeats #12 Georgia 42-10// Outback: Lost to No. 12 Mich. St. 33-30 (3ot)
2012: #2 Alabama defeats #3 Georgia 32-28//Capital One: Beat Nebraska 45-31
Georgia enters the SEC Championship Game with an 11-1 record, including a 7-1 mark in the conference. Georgia’s 31-member senior class has a record of 39-12 in their career. The Bulldogs outscored their SEC Eastern Division opponents 247-72 or by an average 41-12 this season. Georgia went 1-1 against the Western Division, beating No. 17 Mississippi State 31-3 in Athens and falling 40-17 at No. 10 Auburn.
This will be the second time in school history that Georgia will have a rematch in an SEC Championship Game versus a regular season opponent. In 2003, No. 7 Georgia lost to No. 11 LSU 17-10 in Baton Rouge and then the teams squared off at the Georgia Dome for the SEC title. No. 3 LSU beat No. 5 Georgia 34-13.
There have been only three other times in school history where Georgia has faced the same team twice in the same season. In 1895, the Bulldogs went 0-2 against North Carolina (both games in Atlanta). In 1943, Georgia lost twice to LSU, once in Baton Rouge and the second time in Columbus, Ga. Also during the 1943 season, the Bulldogs beat Presbyterian twice in Athens.
There have been only two teams in Bulldog history to register at least 12 wins in a season. Vince Dooley’s 1980 national champions went 12-0, capped by a 17-10 win over Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl. Mark Richt’s 2002 SEC championship squad finished 13-1 after defeating Florida State in the Sugar Bowl. (Note: The NCAA first allowed Division I-A schools to play a 12-game regular season schedule in 2002 and 2003, and then starting in 2006, a 12-game regular season proposal was approved).
The Bulldogs hold a slim 57-56-8 edge in the series as this will be the 122nd game in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. This will be the fifth time that Georgia and Auburn meet where both teams are ranked in the top 10 (1971, 1983, 2004, 2017). Saturday will mark the 122nd meeting between Georgia and Auburn, making it the fourth most played active series in the NCAA FBS (also tied with Oregon-Oregon State). The Bulldogs and Tigers first squared off in 1892 in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. The only event that interrupted the series was a World War as the teams did not play in 1917, 1918 and 1943.
Also of note in the series, the all-time point total differential is 89 with Georgia leading 1,970 to 1,881. The 2012-13 seasons saw the Bulldogs head to Auburn for consecutive years, marking the first time the game had been played at the same site for two years in a row since 1958. The game was played in Columbus during a stretch from 1930-58. The first 10 games were played in Atlanta starting in 1892.
Full Name: Kirby Paul Smart
Birthdate: December 23, 1975
Birthplace: Montgomery, Alabama
Family: Wife: Mary Beth; Children: twins Weston and Julia (Feb. 8, 2008), and Andrew (May 25, 2012)
High School: Bainbridge (Ga.)
College: BBA Georgia ’98; MS Florida State ’03
When Georgia looked for a new head football coach after the 2015 season, the arrows pointed to Kirby Smart, longtime University of Alabama defensive coordinator and former UGA player and assistant. After one season, he has not disappointed.
In his first year leading the Bulldogs, Georgia extended its school record to 20 consecutive bowl appearances and posted five fourth-quarter comebacks including wins over No. 8 Auburn and No. 22 North Carolina. He led UGA to an 8-5 final record, which included a victory over TCU in the Liberty Bowl.
He has also made an immediate impact in recruiting circles posting the nation’s third-ranked class in 2017 following his first class in 2016 generally considered among the top ten. In addition to his coaching duties, Smart oversees the Kirby Smart Family Foundation, which is focused on being champions in the community by supporting and giving back to needy children and families.
Smart officially came home to Georgia on Dec. 6, 2015. But he still had unfinished business at Alabama, which was chasing a national title. He juggled two jobs for a month until January 11, 2016, when the Tide won its fourth national championship in a seven-year span. Twelve hours later, he was at work in Athens, where he is one of nine head coaches at schools from Power 5 conferences that are coaching at their alma mater.
Did You Know?
Kirby Smart is one of nine head coaches at schools from Power 5 conferences that are coaching at their alma maters.
The complete list:
Paul Chryst (Wisconsin) Barry Odom (Missouri)
Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern) Mark Richt (Miami)
Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State) David Shaw (Stanford)
Jim Harbaugh (Michigan) Kirby Smart (GEORGIA)
Cliff Kingsbury (Texas Tech)
Top Ind. Single-Game Performances Under Smart
Rushing Yards: 222, Chubb vs. #22 UNC (9/3/16)
Rushing TDs: 3, Michel vs. UK (11/18/17)
Longest Rush: 74-TD, Michel vs. Florida (10/28/17)
Passing Yards: 346, Eason vs. VU (10/15/16)
Passing TDs: 3, Fromm vs. Samford (9/16/17), Eason @ Missouri (9/17/16)
Receiving TDs: 2, Godwin vs. Samford (9/16/17), McKenzie @ Missouri (9/17/16)
Longest TD Pass: 78-TD, Fromm to Crumpton @ GT (11/24/17)
Longest Pass: 77, Eason to McKenzie vs. TCU (12/30/16)
Tackles: 13, R. Smith vs. Georgia Tech (11/26/16)
Sacks: 3, T. Thompson vs. TCU (12/30/16)
TFL: 3, Thompson vs. Nicholls (9/10/16)
- Led UGA to its first win over a ranked team in a season opener away from Sanford Stadium in school history, posting a 33-24 win over #22 UNC during the 2016 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic
- In head coaching debut, Bulldogs overcame a 10-point deficit in the second half and scored the final 19 points of the game in a win over the #22 Tar Heels in the Georgia Dome in 2016
- Became first UGA football coach since Joel Hunt in 1938 to start his career 3-0 after winning his first 2016 SEC game on the road with a 28-27 victory over Missouri
- Five fourth-quarter comebacks, including wins over #8 AU & #22 UNC
Defense/Special Teams Scores
2017: J.R. Reed 3-yd fumble recover for TD vs. Florida
2016: Safety vs. #22 UNC; Lorenzo Carter 24-yd fumble recovery for TD vs. Nicholls; Terry Godwin 43-yd KOR for TD @ SC; Maurice Smith 34-yd INT return for TD vs. #8 Auburn; Isaiah McKenzie 82-yd PR for TD vs. UL Lafayette
|6 Victories When Tied Or Trailing Late|
|Year||Opponent||Start of 4th Qtr.||Final|
|2016||%#22 UNC||Trailed 24-23||33-24|
|2016||@ Missouri||Trailed 27-21||28-27|
|2016||@ Kentucky||Trailed 21-16||27-24|
|2016||#8 Auburn||Tied 7-7||13-7|
|2017||#24 Notre Dame||17-16, trailed 19-17 with 10:21 left||20-19|
%Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic, Ga. Dome; ^Liberty Bowl, Memphis, Tenn.
Georgia enters the SEC Championship Game averaging 35.5 points/game overall. The Bulldogs lead the nation in Red Zone Offense, going 44-for-45, including 33 touchdowns.
Freshman QB Jake Fromm is 10-1 as a starter. Georgia leads the SEC and ranks fifth nationally in Third Down Conversions at 49 percent. Fromm took over for sophomore Jacob Eason after he went down with a knee injury in the first quarter of the season opener versus Appalachian State.
Fromm is a two-time recipient of SEC Freshman of the Week honors. He earned the accolade in victories over #17 MSU and versus Missouri. In the era of RPOs, Fromm has three rushing touchdowns to go with his passing stats.
Fromm is only the seventh true freshman Bulldog quarterback to start a game, including just the second to do it on the road in his first start. Fromm joined Eric Zeier (1991)as the only true freshmen to have their first career start on the road. Fromm’s first career start came at #24 Notre Dame. Trailing 19-17 with 6:47 left in the contest, Fromm directed a nine play, 63-yard drive to set up the go-ahead field goal. He was 3-for-4 for 45 yards during the drive.
|Jake Fromm (UGA Career)|
|@ #24 ND (W)||29||16||1||1||141||2||100.5|
|#17 MSU (W)||12||9||2||0||201||0||270.7|
|@ UT (W)||15||7||1||1||84||2||102.4|
|@ VU (W)||11||7||2||0||102||1||201.5|
|vs. UF (W)||4||7||1||1||101||0||196.9|
|@ #10 Auburn (L)||28||13||1||0||184||4||113.4|
|@ GT (W)||16||12||2||0||224||0||233.8|
|Jacob Eason (2016 UGA)|
|vs. *#22 UNC||12||8||1||0||131||1||185.9|
|@ MIZZOU (W)||55||29||3||1||308||4||114.1|
|@ #23 OM (L)||36||16||0||1||137||3||70.9|
|#11 UT (L)||28||17||2||1||211||3||140.4|
|@ SC (W)||17||5||1||1||29||1||51.4|
|VU (L) 40||27||1||0||3||46||1||148.4|
|vs. #14 UF (L)||33||15||1||0||143||2||91.9|
|@ UK (W)||31||17||1||0||245||0||131.9|
|#8 AU (W)||31||20||0||0||208||2||120.9|
|vs. App State (W)||3||1||0||0||4||1||44.5|
|@ Tennessee (W)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0.0|
|@ VU (W)||3||3||0||0||24||1||167.2|
|vs. Florida (W)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|@ *Georgia Tech||0||0||0||0||0||0||0.0|
*came in as a reserve
Chubb, Michel Highlight Bulldog Rushing Attack The centerpieces of the Bulldog backfield are seniors Nick Chubb and Sony Michel (for a complete look at Chubb’s career, see pg. 4). Chubb ranks fourth in SEC history with 4,522 career rushing yards. He joins Herschel Walker as the only Bulldogs to have three different 1,000-yard seasons.
Here’s the top five active rushing leaders in NCAA FBS:
|1.||Royce Freeman (Oregon)||Sr.||51 games||5,621 yards||60 TDs|
|2.||Justin Jackson (Northwestern)||Sr.||50 games||5,283 yards||39 TDs|
|3.||Jarvion Franklin (W. Michigan)||Sr.||52 games||4,867 yards||52 TDs|
|4.||Nick Chubb (Georgia)||Sr.||44 games||4,522 yards||42 TDs|
|5.||Ito Smith (Southern Miss)||Sr.||51 games||4,444 yards||42 TDs|
|18.||Sony Michel (Georgia)||Sr.||44 games||3,314||30 TDs|
While Chubb went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season against Kentucky, Michel needs 97 yards to reach his second 1,000-yard season. The Bulldogs have never had two 1,000-yard rushers in the same season.
Michel went for 137 yards and two touchdowns on just six carries in the win over Florida to become only the sixth Bulldog in school history to rush for more than 3,000 yards. Chubb and Michel are the first Bulldog teammates to each have 1,000-yard rushing seasons in their career.
|Career Rushing For Sony Michel|
|Career Rushing For Nick Chubb|
|Career Receiving For Nick Chubb|
In Scoring Defense, the Bulldogs are fifth nationally (13.8 points/game) and led by Broyles Award semifinalist Mel Tucker. The Bulldog defense had a stretch during the 2017 season of holding opponents without a touchdown for 31 straight drives. The streak started in the final quarter of the Samford game and continued until the first half of the Vanderbilt game. This was the longest streak of its kind since 2006. The Bulldogs had a shutout of Florida until just under three minutes left in the contest. At that point, Georgia was up 42-0 and the final was 42-7.
Georgia held six of its eight SEC opponents to 14 points or less. The Bulldogs blanked the Volunteers 41-0 in Knoxville, which snapped the nation’s fourth-longest active scoring streak and sixth-longest streak in college football history. The Vols had scored in 289 games in a row dating back to 1994.
Junior ILB Roquan Smith, who was named a Midseason All-American and is a Nagurski Trophy, Butkus Award and Bednarik Award finalist, is on pace to lead UGA in tackles for the second year in a row. In 2017, Smith has the most tackles on the team with 100, including a 12-tackle performance at #10 Auburn. He led the team in tackles (95) in 2016. This marked the first time a sophomore led UGA in tackles since 2008 (Rennie Curran, 115). Junior Natrez Patrick had seven assists in the victory over Kentucky and added five tackles in the win at Georgia Tech.
Senior OLBs Lorenzo Carter, also a Butkus Award semifinalist, matched his career high with a team-high nine tackles against Florida, including a sack. He and Davin Bellamy wreaked havoc at #24 Notre Dame, as the defense forced their first two turnovers of the year. Carter now has 13.5 career sacks. Both Smith and Lorenzo Carter have been named Butkus Award semifinalists.
The anchor is senior nose John Atkins, who has 30 stops for the frontline. Junior Trenton Thompsonmissed the wins over Missouri and Vanderbilt due to a MCL sprain and has 31 stops on the year, including three TFLs. Sophomore DL Tyler Clark and Julian Rochester played a part in the Bulldogs having a season-high five sacks in the win over the Gators.
In Georgia’s 20-19 road win at #24 Notre Dame, the Irish totaled only 55 yards on the ground, the least recorded by the Irish since 2011. Then, UGA held the Vols to 142 yards in total offense, the lowest ever in the Kirby Smart era and the first shutout since 2014 (34-0, Missouri).
Redshirt sophomore J.R. Reed ranks second on the team with 65 tackles and two INTs. He had a career-best 11 tackle game at #10 Auburn. Reed started in the 42-7 demolition of Florida and scooped up a fumble and returned it three yards for a touchdown and was named the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Week. He added nine tackles against the Gators.
Reed enjoyed a big night in the 31-3 win over #17 MSU with 10 tackles and three pass breakups. He followed that up with his first career INT (followed by a 34-yard ret.) and fumble recovery to go with three tackles in the road shutout of UT. Reed added a blocked field goal against Samford. He also had a sack and a forced fumble in the same play against App State.
Senior safety Dominick Sanders, a Thorpe Award semifinalist, set the Bulldog record for career interception return yardage after picking off his 14th career pass and returning it 18 yards versus Missouri. After snagging his 15th career interception a game later during the rout of Florida, Sanders emerged as the NCAA active career leader and is third on the UGA all-time list. Sanders collected his first interception of the year against #17 MSU and had a 15-yard return. Sanders is now tied for third in school history for non-kickers at 50 starts (tops for defenders all-time) and has started the last 30 contests.
After not having an interception in the first three games, the Bulldogs now have 10 picks on the year.
INTERCEPTIONS (RET. YDS) – CAREER
T1. 16 (315) – Jake Scott, 1967-68
16 (293) – Baccari Rambo, 2009-12
2. 15 (*342) – Dominick Sanders 2014-
*UGA record, fifth in SEC history
Graduate transfer Cameron Nizialek (NYE-zuh-lek) arrived in Athens during the preseason, earned the starting punting job and was a Ray Guy Award semifinalist. This year, he has posted a 44.5 average on 45 punts, including placing 22 inside the 20. Opponents have had just nine punt returns for 45 yards. Georgia is third nationally in Net Punting at 42.6. The Bulldogs are lingering around the school’s Net Punting record (42.6, Collin Barber, 2013).
Nizialek spent his first three seasons at Columbia University where he finished with a degree in Economics. In his career with the Lions, Nizialek averaged 41.3 yards on 149 punts in three seasons. He averaged 44.8 on his punts in 2016.
With one of the SEC’s best offenses scoring 35.5 points/ game, redshirt sophomore PK Rodrigo Blankenship has been busy, booming 76 kickoffs, 53 PATs and 13 field goals. In his busiest night, he tallied 17 points in Georgia’s win over Missouri on Oct. 14. The Groza Award semifinalist booted four field goals and five PATs, which ranks second on the school’s all-time list. Blankenship earned the starting job before the 2017 opener and received the news before the Notre Dame game in week two that he had been awarded a scholarship. He hit the game-winning 30-yard FG at the 3:34 mark in the fourth quarter on the road in the 20-19 victory over the #24 Irish.
This year, 55 of Blankenship’s 76 kickoffs have been touchbacks, which is a new school record. The old mark was by Kevin Butler (51 in 1981). Blankenship has had a streak of 18 consecutive touchbacks. Last year, he totaled 21 touchbacks for the year.
Six former Georgia players have been named team captains for their respective squads this year: C David Andrews, New England Patriots; LB Thomas Davis, Carolina Panthers; RB Todd Gurley, L.A. Rams; LB Justin Houston, Kansas City Chiefs; S Reshad Jones, Miami Dolphins; LB Alec Ogletree, L.A. Rams
The snapping responsibility for the Bulldogs has been shared by senior Trent Frix and junior Nick Moore. Frix is snapping on field goals and extra points. He is the younger brother of former snapper Ty Frix (2009-12) and the son of former snapper Mitch Frix (1981-82).
Senior DB Aaron Davis has been named to the 2017 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. Davis is one of 11 players from the NCAA FBS selected based on their commitment to community service. In addition, the Luella HS graduate was included as one of 10 semifinalists for the Burlsworth Trophy, which honors college football’s most outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on.
Davis, a Finance graduate and native of Locust Grove, Ga., is one of four players from the SEC on the FBS 2017 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. Georgia leads the nation in Allstate AFCA Good Works Team honorees with 18 since 1992, including four straight and six in the last seven years. Current Bulldog TE Jeb Blazevich was awarded the honor in 2016. This year, Davis has started all 12 games and is fourth on the team with 40 tackles and an interception.
Georgia had two players named to the CoSIDA Academic All- District Team last week. Aaron Daviswas voted to the squad for the third consecutive year while redshirt sophomore PK Rodrigo Blankenship was included on the team for the first time in his career.
Davis, a native of Locust Grove, Ga., has a 3.45 GPA and after graduating with a Finance degree, is now working on a degree in Computer Science. Blankenship, a native of Marietta, Ga., owns a 3.75 GPA in his Digital and Broadcast Journalism major.
- Sr. OLB Lorenzo Carter: SEC Defensive Player of the Week after 20-19 win at #24 ND (7 tackles, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles, 2 recovered fumbles)
- Fr. QB Jake Fromm: SEC Freshman of the Week after 31-3 win vs. #17 MSU (9-for-12 for 201 yds., 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions)
- Sr. TB Nick Chubb: SEC Offensive Player of the Week after 41-0 win at UT (16 carries for 109 yds., eclipsed 100-mark for 20th time in his career)
- Sr. LT Isaiah Wynn: SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week after 45-14 win at Vanderbilt (graded out at 92 percent and had 8 “knockdown” blocks as offense racked up 423 yds. rushing)
- Fr. QB Jake Fromm: SEC Freshman of the Week after 53-28 win vs. MU (18-for-26 for a career-high 326 yds., 2 passing TDs, 1 rushing TD)
- RSo. DB J.R. Reed: SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Week after 42-7 win vs. UF (8 tackles, 0.5 sacks, fumble recovery for a touchdown)
- Sr. TB Nick Chubb: SEC Offensive Player of the Week after 42-13 win vs. UK (15 carries for 151 yds, 2 touchdowns, eclipsed 1,000-yd mark for third time in his career)
Georgia has seven players on this year’s roster who have already earned their degrees, and nine on the current roster who are scheduled to receive their degrees in December 2017. The players who received a bachelor degree from UGA include: N John Atkins (Sociology), OT Aulden Bynum(Agricultural & Applied Economics), ILB Reggie Carter (Economics), DB Aaron Davis (Finance) and QB Brice Ramsey (Communication Studies). Davin Bellamy, Jeb Blazevich, Aulden Bynum, Trent Frix, Carson Hall, Matthew Herzwurm, Tim Hill, Cam Nizialek and Thomas Swilley are expected to receive their diplomas this year.
Another pair of players joined the Bulldogs as graduate transfers during the offseason: Cameron Nizialek (Columbia University – Economics), David Marvin (Wofford – Biology/ Chemistry). Marvin is working on a Master’s of Public Health at Georgia. Nizialek is working on a graduate degree in Sport Management and Policy. All of the SEC players who have achieved a degree will be sporting the SEC Graduate patch on their uniforms this year.
The first four home games of the Bulldogs’ 2017 season were night contests and they posted a 4-0 record in that span. Georgia has beaten App State (31-10), Samford (42-14), #17 Mississippi State (31-3) and Missouri (53-28) en route to its 9-0 start. The only other time that the Bulldogs have played this many night games in Sanford Stadium was in 1943.
David Andrews, C, Patriots
Geno Atkins, DT, Bengals
Clint Boling, OG, Bengals
Tyler Catalina, G, Redskins
Thomas Davis, LB, Panthers
Leonard Floyd, LB, Bears
A.J. Green, WR, Bengals
Todd Gurley, RB, Rams
Justin Houston, LB, Chiefs
John Jenkins, DL, Seahawks
Jordan Jenkins, LB, Jets
Charles Johnson, DE, Panthers
Abry Jones, DT, Jaguars
Ben Jones, OL, Titans
Reshad Jones, S, Dolphins
Tavarres King, WR, Giants
Isaiah McKenzie, WR, Broncos
Corey Moore, S, Texans
Alec Ogletree, LB, Rams
Garrison Smith, DE, Seahawks
Maurice Smith, S, Dolphins
Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions
John Theus, OL, Panthers
Blair Walsh, K, Seahawks
Cornelius Washington, DL, Bears
Benjamin Watson, TE, Ravens
Shawn Williams, S, Bengals
Ramik Wilson, LB, Chiefs
Brandon Boykin, CB, Bears
Chris Conley, WR, Chiefs
Cordy Glenn, OT, Bills
Brandon Kublanow, OL, Ravens
Keith Marshall, RB, Redskins
Quincy Mauger, TE, Falcons
Malcolm Mitchell, WR, Patriots
Reggie Davis, WR, Falcons
Orson Charles, TE, Chiefs