Here are four things to know about the long-standing Georgia-Auburn rivalry before the two square off in what might be the most important edition in the series yet:
1. Finding rarity in the familiar: This will be the 122nd game in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, yet just the fifth time both teams rank in the top 10, with two occurring in 2017. It’s the first time Georgia and Auburn will face off twice in a season.
Georgia has faced an opponent twice in a season on four previous occasions, dropping both meetings three times against UNC (1895), LSU (1943) and most relevantly, LSU in 2003, when the Tigers topped the Bulldogs a second time in the SEC championship. UGA defeated Presbyterian twice at home in the 1943 season.
Auburn has also met a team twice in one season four times, with the most recent three coming in the SEC championship. The Tigers swept Alabama in 1893, lost to Florida twice in 2000, then swept Tennessee and South Carolina in 2004 and 2010, respectively, in route to perfect seasons.
The Tigers will become the first SEC West team to face each of the five SEC East winners in the conference championship.
2. As close as it gets: Georgia holds a 57-56-8 advantage in the series. It began in 1892 when the teams played at Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. Georgia and Auburn have played every year since outside 1917, 1918 and 1943, which were disrupted by world wars. The point differential may be the best illustration of the foes’ equality: Georgia has outscored Auburn by 89 points (1,970-1,881) in 121 games.
The Bulldogs have taken recent control of the series with 12 wins in 16 tries. The previous two times Auburn defeated Georgia, it went on to play for the national championship. The Tigers defeated the Bulldogs 40-17 three weeks ago at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
3. No stranger to Atlanta: The game has changed venues on multiple occasions throughout the years. As previously mentioned, the first game took place in Atlanta, as did the ensuing nine. It was held in Columbus, Georgia, from 1930-58. Georgia played consecutive games at Auburn in 2012-13, marking the first time the game was played at the same location in consecutive years since leaving Columbus.
Auburn is 5-4-3 against Georgia in Atlanta, with the last meeting coming in 1914.
4. Glancing in the mirror: Both teams are remarkably similar, relying on tough defense and a powerful run game. Auburn averaged 36.7 points per game, slightly better than Georgia’s 35.5. The Bulldogs’ defense was almost a field goal better, allowing 13.8 points per game against the Tigers’ 16.4.
Auburn has the advantage in total yards per game at 470.2 to 434.7. Georgia’s rushing offense is better by an average of 28 yards, though Auburn’s passing attack is blows Georgia away with a 232.6-yard average opposed to 169. Both teams are plus-3 in turnover differential.
The Tigers have eight SEC titles since joining the league in 1933, with the most recent in 2013. Georgia has 12 SEC titles, most recently in 2005. The winner of the game will qualify for its first appearance in the College Football Playoff.