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Georgia Bulldogs Vs. Auburn Tigers: When Auburn Has The Ball, There Better Be A Spy On Cameron Newton

Auburn's offense: Averaging 202.2 yards per game passing (73rd in Division I-A), 307.2 yards rushing (4th).
Georgia's defense: Allowing 199.1 yards per game passing (37th), 106.4 yards rushing (13th).

Well, the good news is there aren't too many elite playmakers on the Auburn roster for Georgia to worry about other then Cam Newton. Besides the prolific Tiger QB (whom we'll get to in a moment, rest assured), Auburn only has two offensive skill-position players ranked in the top 10 in the SEC in any statistical category -- running back Michael Dyer, seventh in the conference with 79.9 rushing yards per game, and receiver Darvin Adams, eighth with 63.3 receiving yards per game. Other than Adams, there isn't exactly a wealth of deep-threat wideouts to test Georgia's hit-or-miss secondary. Nor is there a lot of consistency on Auburn's special teams -- they're near the bottom in the SEC in both punting and punt returns.

OK, here's where we have to start talking about Cam Newton, whom Auburn coach Gene Chizik assures us will play this weekend in spite of the mounting controversy over his recruitment out of junior college. No disrespect to Georgia's defensive front, which has risen to a surprising second in the SEC in run defense, but their impressive statistics are a bit misleading -- they still haven't figured out how to neutralize a mobile QB yet, as evidenced by the rushing totals run up by Mississippi State's Chris Relf (20 carries, 109 yards), Florida's Trey Burton (17-110, two TDs), or even Colorado's Tyler Hansen (10-51, one TD). And it doesn't take a statistical genius to figure that Newton is easily the most dangerous QB they'll have faced yet. To add to the worry, Auburn's passing stats are just as misleading; it's not that they suck at throwing the ball, it's just that they haven't asked Newton to throw it all that much because, well, they haven't had to. But when they have asked him to launch it, he's been the second most efficient passer in the entire country, completing more than two-thirds of his throws with a TD/INT ratio of 19/5. This was a very potent offense even last year, when Auburn offensive coordinator only had supposed also-ran Chris Todd to work with; with a he-man like Newton, it's become downright unstoppable.

Georgia LB Justin Houston vs. Auburn QB Cam Newton.
Like, who did you think it was going to be? Nobody on Auburn's offense is a more diabolical threat, and nobody on Georgia's defense is more capable of stopping him (if, of course, he's capable of being stopped in the first place). Houston has been a savvy QB-headhunter all season long, leading the SEC with nine sacks, but even he will have a tough time taking down Newton, whom he outweighs by only a couple large meals' worth and who rarely, if ever, has gone down on first contact. If Houston can't use his deceptive speed to chase down Newton before he gets to the defensive backfield, it's going to be a long day on the Plains for Georgia.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.