ATHENS, Ga. — On Auburn’s first possession Saturday afternoon, Clint Moseley lofted a 45-yard pass to Emory Blake and C.J. Uzomah caught Georgia by surprise with a 4-yard touchdown strike to tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen.
It was a masterful drive drawn up by Tigers offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn that tied the game at 7, and it set the stage for a marvelous shootout. The shootout never transpired.
“We knew they were going to come out with some trick plays,” Georgia safety Bacarri Rambo said, “and we had our eyes in the wrong spots that allowed them to make those plays. We followed our game plan, though, and I just knew we were going to shut those guys down.”
The Tigers marched 76 yards on eight plays on their opening posssession, but they were battered and befuddled the rest of the way. Auburn ran 20 more plays in the first half, managing a scant 13 yards as the Bulldogs built a 35-7 lead at intermission and cruised to a 45-7 win.
Auburn scored 49 points a year ago against Todd Grantham’s first Georgia defense, but the Bulldogs were relentless Saturday after the mulligan.
“We knew that was going to come,” Grantham said. “They had two weeks to prepare, and most offenses are going to have a script in that situation. They made a couple of plays there, but then once we got off the script and we got into playing football, I thought our players knew what was coming and did a really good job.”
The Bulldogs held Auburn’s tailback tandem of Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb to a combined 11 first-half yards. They wound up limiting Auburn to 195 total yards and tallied 10 lost-yardage stops, including five sacks of Clint Moseley.
Jarvis Jones, who had four sacks of Florida’s John Brantley, added two for a season total of 10.
“We were playing the same football out there that we’ve been playing all along,” Jones said. “People have been saying we’ve been doing this all year against non-ranked teams, so we wanted to make a statement, because Auburn is a pretty good football team.”
As good as Georgia has been defensively this season, the Bulldogs entered Saturday as the only SEC team without a defensive score this year. That changed at the 9:41 mark of the second quarter, when Rambo intercepted Moseley and reached the end zone from 24 yards out.
The interception was Rambo’s seventh this season, and he credited offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and offensive line coach Will Friend for his scoring desire.
“Coach Friend and Coach Bobo are always making fun of me,” Rambo said. “They say, ‘You make all those interceptions, but you can’t get in the end zone.’ I had in my mind that when I got my next interception, I would take it to the house. I did whatever it took, whether it was running across the field or jumping over tacklers.”
Rambo has 149 return yards this season, and his score was one of many defensive plays that had Grantham and head coach Mark Richt extremely pleased.
“Any time you play a running team like them, it’s really critical to set the edge of the defense,” Grantham said, “and once you set the edge, you build a wall inside and you play physical. I thought our D-line was stout.”
Said Richt: “It’s a lot more fun to coach when you’ve got a good defense.”
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...