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ATHENS, Ga. — As Auburn trudged off the field after a disappointing 27-6 loss to Georgia late Saturday night, the public address announcer’s voice blared over the speakers at Sanford Stadium:

“Different month, same result.”

It serves as a perfect summation of the 125th edition of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, which was played off its usual November date for the first time since 1936. The Tigers’ loss Saturday was their seventh straight in Athens dating back to their last win in 2005. The players and coaches have changed along the way, but the script hasn’t – some defense, not nearly enough offense.

One of the only positives is that Auburn doesn’t have to face Alabama in two weeks.

“They were the better team,” said Gus Malzahn, whose Tigers teams are now 0-4 with only three touchdowns scored at Sanford Stadium during his eight seasons as coach. “They got out early on us. We had some bad field position, they scored, and we got behind."

It forced Auburn to all but abandon the run. Georgia struck for three touchdowns and a field goal on four consecutive first-half drives after an opening three-and-out to take a 24-0 lead midway through the second quarter.

Freshman Tank Bigsby finished with 31 yards on eight carries. He was the only running back to receive a handoff; Shaun Shivers was too hurt to play, and D.J. Williams caught two passes. Three other rushers – quarterback Bo Nix, tight end J.J. Pegues (out of the Wildcat) and wide receiver Anthony Schwartz (on a sweep) – combined for 8 yards on 11 carries.

Auburn’s totals – 39 yards (1.8 average) on 22 carries – marked its lowest in a game since a Nov. 3, 2018, win over Texas A&M, when it rushed 21 times for just 19 yards, and its last loss at Sanford Stadium a week later, respectively.

“We weren't getting push,” Malzahn said. “They're a really good defense. They've got a lot of veteran guys, and we had trouble moving them at times.”

Ultimately, it’s not a surprising result. The Bulldogs returned eight starters from a defense that ranked second nationally allowing just 2.62 yards per carry last season. The Tigers haven’t topped 150 yards rushing in Athens since they went for 227 in their last win there in 2005 (though 31 is by far their worst performance).

Nix and the passing offense were supposed to be the difference this season. Auburn struggled to run the ball in a Week 1 win over Kentucky, too – just 91 yards on 30 carries – but made up for it through the air, where Nix completed 17 of 26 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns. The offense’s 5.7 yards per play in that game – its first with Chad Morris calling the plays – marked the most it has averaged in any game during the Malzahn era in which it failed to rush for at least 100 yards.

The 3.4 yards per play Auburn averaged Saturday marked its fewest in any game since a Sept. 9, 2017, loss at Clemson (1.8). The loss marked the first time since a Oct. 6, 2018, loss at Mississippi State that it failed to score a single touchdown.

Nix spent much of the first half scrambling away from a Georgia pass rush that sacked him three times and pressured him more than that. Nearly all of his five first-half completions came on passes behind the line of scrimmage, because that was all he had time to hit accurately behind an offensive line that rotated seven players for a second straight week.

A better second half allowed the sophomore quarterback to finish 21 of 41 for 177 yards and an interception – his first after going 251 straight attempts without one dating back to an Oct. 26 loss at LSU last season. He wasn’t able to find top target Seth Williams, who caught two touchdowns against the Wildcats, until early in the third quarter. The junior finished with only 34 yards on three receptions.

After looking like a more comfortable and confident quarterback at home, Nix looked like a freshman again on the road.

“I made some pitiful throws and missed a bunch of guys out there tonight. I’m never going to blame a receiver,” Nix said. “Drops are part of the game, but I missed more throws than they had drops. That’s unacceptable on my part.”

It puts Nix in a not-so-exclusive club. He's the seventh player to quarterback Auburn in Athens since that 2005 win. Only one of them (Chris Todd in 2009) passed for more than 180 yards. All of them have thrown at least one interception. Nix is the fourth to averaged fewer than 5 yards per attempt.

Different month, same result.

“They played about as good as they could play and we played about as bad as we could play,” Nix said. “We just got beat. That’s really all you can say about it."

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This article originally ran on annistonstar.com.

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