ATHENS, Ga. — There was a feeling that this year’s edition of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry could be different.
It wasn’t, though. Not even close. Georgia looked like the better team from the jump. The final score, 27-6, proved it emphatically.
Here are three things we learned from Auburn’s first loss of the 2020 season:
1. Chad Morris’ offense isn’t anywhere near where it’s supposed to be yet
This will surely delight Arkansas fans going into next week’s game at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn looked pretty polished on that side of the ball when it outscored Kentucky 21-6 in the second half last week, but it was helped by two turnovers that set it up in great field position.
An elite Georgia defense proved it has much more work to do.
The Tigers committed illegal snap and false start penalties before running their first play Saturday. Three of their first four drives went three-and-out and gained just 6 yards combined. They didn’t record their second first down of the game until the latter half of the second quarter, after the Bulldogs had sprinted out to a 24-0 lead.
Auburn went into halftime with just 81 yards of total offense. Georgia’s swarming defense hounded quarterback Bo Nix constantly, keeping most of his passing completions behind the line of scrimmage.
The second half, comparatively, was better. Auburn’s first two drives lasted 15 plays. But they netted only three points – the second ended with Nix throwing an interception on fourth-and-13, which was his first in a span of 251 attempts. That was the second-longest streak in the country, behind only Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence.
The sophomore quarterback completed 21 of 41 for 177 yards a week after passing for 233 yards against the Wildcats.
Saturday marks the Tigers' first game since a 2018 loss at Mississippi State that it failed to score a touchdown.
2. Auburn has a lot to clean up on defense
It seemed as if Kentucky’s ability to move the ball almost at will in the first half of last week ’s game — it converted eight of its first 10 first downs — were the result of little more than first-game jitters for Auburn’s defense. The Tigers erased them with three forced turnovers, including one that kept the Wildcats out of the end zone before halftime and another that set up a touchdown pass from Nix.
But those turnovers may have only masked some real issues on defense. Auburn allowed more than 23 points in a game only twice all of last season. Georgia scored 24 in the first half alone.
After going three-and-out on their first drive, the Bulldogs reeled off four consecutive scoring drives. Three of them were at least 10 plays long, as was their first of the second half, which went for another score.
Third downs were again a significant source of struggle for Auburn – Georgia converted 6 of 9 in the first half and 9 of 14 in the game. It finished with 442 yards of offense.
3. Tank Bigsby is ready for more
The redshirt freshman running back was about the only bright spot for the Tigers on Saturday. He was also about the only running back who played – last week’s starter, Shaun Shivers, didn’t take the field once, possibly due to injury. D.J. Williams received two targets in the passing game, but did not run the ball.
Bigsby ran eight times for 31 yards (3.9 average) and caught seven passes for 68 yards. Those eight carries were the only one by Auburn running backs in the game – the team finished with just 39 rushing yards overall.
In a game where there was very little for Auburn to feel good about, it at least saw plenty of promise from the fourth-highest rated running back signee in program history.