AUBURN – The Auburn Tigers (3-2) fell 27-20 at the hands of the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs (5-0) in a hard-fought game on Saturday.
Auburn put up an effort that not many believed they were capable of. Head coach Hugh Freeze was pleased with it.
“Really, really proud of our kids," Freeze said. "But it hurts in there right now, and that’s good to see. It hurts, it hurts those kids and our coaches and our fans, I’m sure, too. You have a chance to beat the number one team in the country and back-to-back national champions at home."
"The feeling that you get if you can pull that off is just ecstatic and you can certainly build off of that, and hopefully we can build off of the way we played better today. But it hurts, and it’s disappointing that we didn’t find a way to get it done today, but I am really proud of our kids," he added.
What are some of the biggest takeaways from the game?
Brock Bowers is one of the best players in college football
The Georgia tight end played a big role in this one. Bowers caught eight passes for 157 yards and a touchdown.
Auburn had an answer for just about everything else Georgia threw at them, but Bowers was the difference-maker.
“Brock’s a good player, a really good player," said Auburn linebacker Eugene Asante. "He’s an All-American for a reason. We just put him in different situations where different people were covering him and he did a really good job. So kudos to him and to what type of tight end he is. He’s a great tight end."
Third down play was a factor on both sides of the ball
Auburn was unable to consistently convert on third down, and Georgia was almost impossible to stop on third down.
Auburn went 2-12 on third-down conversions. Meanwhile, Georgia went 8-13 on third-down conversions.
Getting your defense off the field on third down as well as keeping your offense out there on third down is crucial. Georgia was able to do that more effectively than Auburn and was able to win the game.
Brian Battie is a difference-maker for Auburn
Battie had a breakout game.
Although he only picked up 39 yards off of eight carries, he gave Auburn an alternative to Jarquez Hunter in the ground attack. He also caught three passes out of the backfield for a total of 18 yards.
Additionally, he has made a name for himself as a dangerous kick-off returner.
“I feel like we had a lot better practice, Battie said. "Everybody was locked in. I am truly proud of how we played today and the way that we wanted it.”
Auburn's defense stood tall
Despite still being without some key contributors, the Auburn defense found a way to keep the Tigers in the game.
Georgia did put up 420 yards, and Auburn definitely bent at times, but it did not break.
The Tigers forced two crucial turnovers which helped keep the game under control and the home crowd involved.
“I think the nation learned more about what we can do," said Auburn defensive lineman Marcus Harris. "We see each other every day, so we know what we are capable of. Last week was not a good showing for the whole team. We knew we had to pick up the intensity this week against this great team.”
Auburn took a step forward offensively
After putting up only three points and 200 total yards against Texas A&M last week, there was a lot of concern surrounding Auburn's offense. Today they showed signs of life.
Quarterback Payton Thorne only went 10-19 for 82 yards through the air, but he also added 92 yards on the ground.
Tight end Rivaldo Fairweather caught four passes for 44 yards.
Most importantly? They put up 20 points against a defense that is just as good if not better than Texas A&M's.
“I’m very happy with that, you know it was good to see," Thorne said. "Coach talked about going toe-to-toe with them, and I thought we did that. I don’t think anyone was out there playing scared and we got to take that away from this game. So that was a positive.”
Auburn has its bye week this upcoming week. The Tigers will be back in action in two weeks when they travel down to Baton Rouge, La. for a matchup with No. 13 LSU at Tiger Stadium. The game time and channel will be announced on Monday.
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