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Georgia Bulldogs Vs. Auburn Tigers Series History: The Underdogs Bite Back

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Let's get one thing out of the way: Is a Georgia victory over 2nd-ranked Auburn this weekend likely? Not by my traditional understanding of the word, no. But neither would it be completely out of the question. For better or for worse, this historic series has made a recent habit of big upsets and close calls no matter how lopsided an individual game might look on paper.

Nov. 16, 1996: For the second year in a row, an unranked Georgia squad faces a 20th-ranked Auburn team as a 10-point underdog. Auburn, still in the running for an SEC West title, tears out to a 28-7 lead midway through the second quarter, but the defense held in the second half and Mike Bobo led the offense to an amazing comeback, throwing the tying touchdown with just one second left in regulation to send an SEC game to overtime for the very first time. Four OTs later, Georgia was walking out of Jordan-Hare stadium with both an incredible 56-49 win and one of the most famous photographs in Georgia football history.

Nov. 13, 1999: This time it was Auburn's turn to be unranked and a 10-point underdog, but that didn't seem to matter to first-year head coach Tommy Tuberville or anyone else on his team -- least of all QB Ben Leard, who threw for a career-high 416 yards (249 of them to wideout Ronney Daniels). As an ominous full moon rose over Sanford Stadium, Leard, Daniels and the Tigers rode to a 31-0 halftime lead that they pushed to 38-0 before finally letting off the gas. Fourteenth-ranked Georgia could only score three late, meaningless touchdowns to mitigate some of the embarrassment of what was probably the program's worst-ever performance in Athens.

Nov. 12, 2005: The 15th-ranked Tigers were hardly patsies as they rolled into Athens, but neither were they supposed to beat a top-10 Georgia team rolling toward the second SEC title of Mark Richt's tenure, particularly with quarterback D.J. Shockley back from an injury that sidelined him for two weeks. Shockley showed little rust upon his return (20-of-36 for 304 yards and a pair of TDs), but a blown coverage on 4th-and-10 with barely a minute to go allowed Devin Aromashodu to get behind the Georgia secondary for a 62-yard catch-and-run, and John Vaughn kicked a 20-yard field goal a few plays later to lift Auburn to a 31-30 upset.

Nov. 11, 2006: As troubled as Georgia's team might look right now, they're no worse off than the '06 Dawgs were around this time of year -- UGA was coming off a 1-4 midseason skid that included unthinkable losses to both Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Yet the unranked Dawgs jumped on #5 Auburn almost from the get-go, with Tra Battle intercepting Brandon Cox three times in the first half alone and running one of them back for a TD. Georgia shot out to a 24-0 lead before Cox or anyone else on the Auburn side could collect themselves and coasted to a 37-15 win, crushing Auburn's national-title hopes and kicking off their current four-game winning streak in the series.

Nov. 15, 2008: The Dawgs were a frustrated team coming into the Auburn game, coming off a three-week stretch in which their defense allowed a total of 125 points (including 49 to Florida in an utter evisceration in Jacksonville), but they were still heavy favorites over an Auburn team that had already given offensive coordinator Tony Franklin his walking papers and would soon be sending head coach Tuberville to keep him company in the unemployment line. Auburn's struggling offense didn't accomplish much, but they held Georgia to only 17 points and got all the way down to the Georgia 14 with a shot at the winning TD before Kodi Burns overthrew Ben Tate in the end zone with one second left on the clock.

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