End 3Q. Georgia leads Auburn 13-7. The key for Auburn coming back to win this game will undoubtedly by Jarrett Stidham. The Tigers have struggled to run the ball consistently all game, with Stidham's scrambles arguably been the most reliable part of the ground game. The Auburn defense continues to do just enough to keep the game close; it's up to their teammates on offense to take advantage.
Thanks to the insanity that is writing on a deadline, this will be where I sign off from the live blog. You can follow along from this point @wareagleextra.
Rodrigo Blankenship's 35-yard field goal attempt is good. Georgia leads Auburn 13-7 1:26 3Q. That Georgia only scored three points on that drive has to feel like a victory for an Auburn defense that is missing a few key players and appears to be wearing down. The Bulldogs continue to run the ball well, which was highlighted on that drive by a big run from Nick Chubb. Has strong as the Bulldogs looked that drive, all Auburn needs is one play to go its way to re-take the lead.
8:13, 3Q: In what may be a huge turning point of the game, Daniel Carlson's 31-yard field goal attempt is blocked by DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle. No points for Auburn, and Georgia takes over on its 28-yard line.
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12:11, 3Q: Two huge losses for the Auburn defense, as CBS has reported Tre' Williams (right shoulder) and Carlton Davis (undisclosed) are out for the game.
Halftime: Georgia leads Auburn 10-7. This game is still a good ways away from being decided, but there are several areas of concern for Auburn going forward. The first has to be protecting Jarrett Stidham in critical moments. Stidham has been sacked twice tonight, one which led to a fumble that eliminated what would have been a makeable field-goal attempt. The other area of concern offensively has to be running the football. Kerryon Johnson is obviously not 100 percent and is averaging 2.0 yards per play. Auburn has tried to get other players involved in the run game, but so far, it's not worked out so well.
Defensively, the Tigers absolutely have to buckle down when Georgia starts each drive. The last three Bulldogs' offensive possessions have began with a run for at least 11 yards. Each carry -- two by Nick Chubb, one by Sony Michel -- sparked the Georgia offense, with two of the three ending with points. Georgia will open the second half with the football and will almost assuredly run it to open it up. Can the Tigers stop what they know is coming?
Rodrigo Blankenship's 27-yard field goal is good. Georgia leads Auburn 10-7. The Auburn defense got a break on another strong Georgia drive. On third-and-goal from the 2-yard line, Javon Wims was called for offensive pass interference (it was the correct call) that took seven points off the board. It pushed the Bulldogs back and made them decide to just run the ball on third-and-17. Auburn's defense has surrendered three big Georgia runs to start the Bulldogs' last three drives.
Jake Fromm connects with Isaac Nauta for a 2-yard touchdown. Game tied 7-7 10:14 2Q. Auburn had a chance to go up two scores in this one before Jarrett Stidham was sacked and fumbled deep in Georgia territory. The Tigers' secondary had issues stopping the Georgia passing game there, particularly with Fromm finding Mecole Hardman on two big plays. Something to watch: Marlon Davidson left the game during that drive. How serious is the defensive lineman's injury?
End 1Q: Auburn leads Georgia 7-0. The Tigers offense ends the opening 15 minutes ready to add to its lead. An important play on this drive -- Kerryon Johnson pushed his way forward on third-and-3 to convert for the Tigers. When play resumes, Auburn has the ball on the Georgia 30-yard line.
6:16, 1Q: On Georgia's first offensive drive, the Tigers defense gave a little more than it did last week against Alabama. The Bulldogs were able to convert one third down (The Crimson Tide didn't convert on third down until the fourth quarter), but that was the biggest highlight. Tray Matthews and Dontavius Russell recorded sacks on the drive that ultimately led to a 38-yard Georgia punt.
Jarrett Stidham hits Nate Craig-Myers for a 6-yard touchdown. Auburn leads 7-0 9:54 1Q: The Tigers used a lot of motion on their first drive of the game, aiming to get the Bulldogs' defense off guard. The Tigers utilized some big plays via wide receiver sweeps to drive down the field and also benefited from a Georgia defensive pass interference call and a poorly-timed substitution penalty on the Bulldogs. Kerryon Johnson has three carries for 11 yards so far and hasn't shown any issues to this point.
Thanks for checking in on our live blog from Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the Georgia Bulldogs and Auburn Tigers will soon square off in the SEC Championship Game. The winner will move on to make its first ever College Football Playoff appearance.
The last hour before kickoff of the 2017 SEC Championship Game pic.twitter.com/7xk8MZZYGR— Jordan D. Hill (@JordanDavisHill) December 2, 2017
At least one pregame question has been answered. Kerryon Johnson was announced in the pregame as the starting running back for the Tigers. He was out warming up with the rest of the Tigers during hte pregame, though he did not touch the football during that time.
Kickoff: 4 p.m. EST/3 CST
Commentators: Brad Nessler (play-by-play), Gary Danielson (commentary), Allie LaForce (sideline)
Matchups to watch
Auburn’s running backs vs. Georgia’s front seven
The Auburn run game had great success against the Bulldogs in the first go-around, but who will take the bulk of the carries Saturday? Kerryon Johnson is nursing a shoulder injury he suffered in the Iron Bowl, and while all indications are that he will play, there has to be some concern about his status. Perhaps just as importantly, backup Kam Martin has also been dealing with injuries of late, hurting his ankle in the win over Alabama. If either running back’s play is significantly hampered, one of the Tigers’ best assets may quickly become a liability.
Auburn’s defensive line vs. Georgia’s offensive line
In the first meeting, the Bulldogs could not get any movement up front against a tough front seven, and the Tigers held Georgia’s run game to only 46 yards. It was the only time all year that the Bulldogs did not total at least 185 rushing yards. For Georgia to be successful, it must get Nick Chubb and Sony Michel going on the ground. But Auburn’s front, led by Marlon Davidson, Nick Coe and Derrick Brown, will look to once again prevent the Bulldogs from generating a push.
Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham vs. Georgia’s secondary
It’s ideal for football players to be playing their best when the stakes are at a season-high, and it’s hard to argue Stidham isn’t doing just that. He had pinpoint accuracy for most of the victory over Alabama, and he showed marked improvement operating in and out of the pocket. The Bulldogs’ secondary has been prone to surrendering big plays downfield, something Stidham should look to take advantage of come Saturday.
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports