No. 2 Georgia looking for return to top form against Auburn

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett throws during the first half of an NCAA college football...
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett throws during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Missouri Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)(L.G. Patterson | AP)
Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 11:11 AM EDT
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(AP) - Don’t expect Auburn players to empathize with concerns expressed this week about No. 2 Georgia’s sudden dip from championship form.

The Bulldogs, who play Auburn on Saturday, fell from the top spot in The Associated Press Top 25 this week after having to rally for a 26-22 win at Missouri last week. Georgia (5-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) trailed 13-0 early and 22-12 in the fourth quarter before finishing strong.

The major scare at Missouri followed a similarly uninspiring 39-22 win over Kent State. The back-to-back shaky outings have at least temporarily ended talk that Georgia might be better than last season’s national championship team.

Auburn (3-2, 1-1) experienced the other side of a big comeback last week, leaving more pressure on embattled coach Bryan Harsin. The Tigers led LSU 17-0 before losing 21-17 at home.

Harsin would receive a much-needed boost if Auburn can end a streak of five straight losses in the series with Georgia. Even with Georgia’s recent inability to maintain the form it showed in outscoring its first three opponents 130-10, Auburn’s challenge is daunting. The Bulldogs are favored by 29 1/2 points.

“Defending national champions. Overall, just as a football team, they’re well-coached,” Harsin said. “They’ve had a lot of success with their program, and certainly you see that right now.”

It will be the first road start for Auburn quarterback Robby Ashford. T.J. Finley opened the season as the starter before suffering a shoulder injury.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart shrugged off concerns the team hasn’t matched the production of its strong start to the season.

“I don’t look at it as a hitting slump or some kind of funk or anything like that,” Smart said.