UGA, Auburn square off after testy 2010 game
So much for those neighborly Georgia-Auburn get-togethers.
The rivalry billed as the oldest in the Deep South got nasty
last year with 10 personal foul penalties, two suspensions of
Auburn players for throwing punches and a couple of injury-causing
hits on Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray.
This is supposed to be the kinder, gentler version of
Alabama-Auburn and Georgia-Florida.
”Yeah, everyone kind of thought it was a friendlier rivalry up
until last year when it got a little more heated toward the end,”
Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen said. ”We know that they
remember that from last year and we remember them kind of coming
after us toward the end. So I think it’s going to be another
That’s true of just about any Southeastern Conference game, and
certainly any time Auburn and Georgia meet up.
Having the game get as testy as the last one is less common.
Auburn (6-3, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) was trying to stay
alive in the national championship hunt, quarterback Cam Newton was
embroiled in a recruiting scandal and ferocious defensive tackle
Nick Fairley was busy stirring up trouble.
Fairley was called for a late hit on Murray when he appeared to
come in, illegally, helmet-first. Murray sustained a bruised
Later, tempers really flared when Fairley hit Murray low on a
clean play, knocking the quarterback from the game with a bruised
knee. A resulting scuffle led fellow Auburn defensive linemen Mike
Blanc and Michael Goggans to draw suspensions for the first half of
the Alabama game for throwing punches.
All three of those linemen are gone. Do the hard feelings
remain? Depends on who you ask.
”No, it’s two completely different football teams,” Murray
said. ”That was last year. A bunch of guys graduated on our team,
a bunch of guys graduated on their team. We’re not talking about
that at all. We’re focused on winning this game and continue to set
us up for chance to get back to Atlanta (to play for the SEC
Bulldogs tight end Aron White said some guys were still angry
and holding grudges after Auburn rallied from a two-touchdown
deficit to win 49-31.
”But at the end of the day, it’s still a rivalry game,” White
said. ”You have to expect things like that. Our emotions got the
best of us like they got the best of them. It’s always going to get
a little chippy out there against Auburn.
”Last year happens to be one of those games where it got a
whole lot more chippy.”
The Bulldogs (7-2, 5-1) have the high stakes this time, since
they’re in the driver’s seat in the East Division.
This is typically one of the biggest – and tightest – games for
both teams. Auburn holds a slim 54-52-8 edge.
The scoring margin through 114 meetings: Georgia 1,809, Auburn
1,771. That breaks down to an average score of 15.87-15.5. To
Auburn coach, Gene Chizik this meets the very definition of
rivalry, though he says he doesn’t expect a repeat of last year’s
”A rivalry is always made up of two teams that usually have
something in common and are great competition for and with each
other,” Chizik said.
Former Georgia coach and Auburn quarterback Vince Dooley agrees
with Chizik that the rival programs share many traits.
”It’s always been hard-hitting,” Dooley said. ”But there’s so
much in common. Somebody described it as feuding cousins. I think
that is probably a good description. It’s a great rivalry. There’s
a lot of similarities, a lot of respect for both institutions, and
it’s a hard-hitting football game. Then there’s the fact there’s a
lot of Georgia people who played at Auburn, that adds to it.
”Auburn is very close to the border. It’s a great
The rivalry even has a gentlemanly history. Georgia is the only
one of Auburn’s major rivals who didn’t raise a fuss about moving
the game from a neutral site to campus. It was played mostly in
Columbus, Ga., until the late 1950s.
Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia Tech indicated they’d rather drop
the rivalry altogether, and the Crimson Tide didn’t play on
Auburn’s campus until 1989.
It remains to be seen whether that courteous relationship will
be evident between the hedges at Sanford Stadium on Saturday.
The players might be willing to let it go, but White said he’s
been hearing from students about payback.
”They’ve been talking about Nick Fairley, things like, `He’s
gone but we can still get their quarterback,”’ White said. ”I’m
not really buying into all that. I’m just trying to win the
Auburn defensive tackle Jeffrey Whitaker is from Warner Robins,
Ga. He expects plenty of hard-hitting action, but for the teams to
keep it clean.
”That’s the way it is. It’s Georgia and Auburn,” Whitaker
said. ”When you’ve got a pretty good offensive line, who don’t
mind hitting you in the mouth and you don’t mind returning the
favors, there are going to be some shots. There’s going to be a
little talking here and there. We’re going to respect the game.
We’re going to play until the whistle blows.”
Or maybe until the flags fly.
AP Sports Writer Paul Newberry in Athens, Ga., contributed to