AUBURN | Auburn’s 2017 football schedule includes two tough road games in September, three more in October and two big November rivalry games at home.
Today, we continue an early look at each opponent with a key home game against a big rival.
WHO: Georgia (8-5 last season, 4-4 SEC East)
WHEN: Nov. 11
WHERE: Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451)
WHAT’S NEW: Tray Scott was hired by Kirby Smart to coach the defensive line. Scott coached at North Carolina for two years before accepting a position at Ole Miss, where he stayed for a month before joining the Bulldogs.
WHO TO WATCH, OFFENSE: Nick Chubb returns for his senior season as one of the nation’t best running backs. He is Georgia’s second all-time leading rusher with 3,424 yards, trailing only Herschel Walker, who is still the SEC’s all-time leader with 5,259 yards.
WHO TO WATCH, DEFENSE: Junior defensive tackle Trenton Thompson put up some impressive number for an interior d-lineman last season. He was third on the team with 56 tackles, first with 9.5 tackles-for-loss and tied for first with 5.0 sacks.
OUTLOOK: Georgia looks to be improved on offense with the return of sophomore Jacob Eason in his second year as the starting quarterback along with Chubb and Sony Michel at running back and a talented group of tight ends led by Isaac Nauta, but questions remain at receiver and offensive line. Javon Wins and Terry Godwin will lead a young but talented group of receivers. Senior tackles Isaiah Wynn and Dyshon Sims are both talented but both project as guards on the next level.
Georgia could have the best defense in the conference with 10 returning starters including an impressive front seven led by Thompson, defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter and outside linebackers Davin Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter. Roquan Smith is another standout linebacker and two seniors, safety Dominick Sanders and cornerback Malkom Parrish, will anchor the secondary.
Gus Malzahn can’t afford to keep losing to Auburn’s two biggest rivals and needs to take advantage of this opportunity to break a three-game losing streak to the Bulldogs. Both Auburn and Georgia could be highly ranked and in the mix for division titles headed into the Deep South’s oldest rivalry. A rematch in the SEC Championship game three weeks later is a possibility if both teams play up to their potential this fall.
AUBURN CONNECTION: Georgia running backs coach Dell McGee is a former Auburn defensive back and was an analyst for the 2013 team. Sophomore outside linebacker David Marshall is a former Auburn commit.