AUBURN, Ala. - A huge roar went up among the Auburn faithful here at Jordan-Hare early in the first quarter. But it wasn't about anything happening on the field. That wasn't much cause to cheer if you were a Tiger fan.
Georgia fans, on the other hand, can pretty much clear their schedules for Dec. 1: Barring a miraculous comeback that Auburn doesn't appear capable of making, the Bulldogs will be playing for the SEC championship again.
The Bulldogs are winning this in a rout, up 28-0 at the half. Here are some thoughts:
1. So far this is the most complete game Georgia has played. Yes, Auburn is a pretty bad team right now. But Georgia is doing what it should, especially on offense: Through its first four drives, which all ended with touchdowns, Georgia was averaged 10 yards a play. And the only reason the fifth drive resulted in a punt was that Arthur Lynch couldn't hold on to a pass on third down. The Bulldogs are also balanced: 186 yards through the air, and 148 gained rushing, not including a sack.
2. Perhaps the team will miss Marlon Brown eventually, but not tonight. Chris Conley has stepped into Brown's role very well, hauling in the game's first touchdown, and he has four catches for 32 yards. Georgia is also making more use of its tight ends: Lynch and Jay Rome combined for four receptions in the first quarter, and five overall. The pair had combined for only 14 all season before tonight.
3. Remember how Auburn guard Chad Slade, in some otherwise complimentary statements about Jarvis Jones, said: "You can stop him. It's not that hard." Well, Jones only has two sacks in the first half. Which means that on 22 of 24 plays tonight, Jones has not recorded a sack. It's only fair to point that out.
4. Georgia's defense hasn't been 100 percent stout, allowing a few big plays, and Auburn has been in Georgia territory twice. But a shutout is a shutout. Even against an Auburn offense that is absolutely horrid. The Bulldogs have been particularly tough against the run, with the Tigers doing their only damage on outside throws.
5. How complete a thrashing has this been for the Bulldogs? Marshall Morgan has even made all his extra points, and no one on punt return has fumbled. Amazing, I know.
6. I sense no life from this Auburn crowd, even though the stadium was nearly filled by kickoff. It's as if they were sensing the inevitable after the first few minutes. And that's exactly what Georgia needed to do, and hoped to do: Take control right away and take the life out of the Tigers. That's what happened, and that's why you shouldn't look for any comeback.
7. I'd look for Georgia to start pulling its starters by late in the third quarter. The second-quarter scare with Murray, who left for one play, may lead to him being sat down earlier. It might also behoove them to take the load off Todd Gurley. But on defense, Todd Grantham has always taken awhile to pull his starters, so I'll be curious how long he waits this time.