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Ashway: Dawgs down Auburn, but dare not rest easy
Denton Ashway
DENTON ASHWAY

Bulldog Nation awoke Sunday morning to skies that seemed a little bluer, grass that seemed a little greener, and coffee that tasted a little more robust. Their beloved Dawgs were now universally acclaimed as the best college football team in the land.

The Dawgs’ 34-10 dismantling of Auburn was nice. Beating Auburn is always nice. Not only is this the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, it’s also been the most closely contested. All wins are hard-fought and savored.

To Auburn’s credit, they created the first truly hostile environment the Dawgs have experienced this season. And the Tigers opened each half by giving Georgia their best shot.

They began by driving 68 yards in 17 plays on Georgia’s mighty defense, a feat heretofore deemed impossible. They kept the ball for 6:41 and marched to Georgia’s 9-yard line before QB Bo Nix was stymied.

Auburn’s ensuing field goal put Georgia behind for the first time all season. That lasted all of 5 ½ minutes.

By game’s end, Georgia was once again doing what this Georgia team does: totally dominating the opposition. In the second half, Georgia ran the ball 31 times for 165 yards. Auburn amassed five yards on 10 carries.

Auburn threw 43 passes to Georgia’s 21, but outgained Georgia through the air by only 41 yards. This despite Georgia’s offense still being directed by Stetson Bennett IV, the permanent part-time QB who refuses to make mistakes and shows a beautiful touch on all passes, long and short. And he’s quite nimble afoot, too, thank you.

“Stetson played a helluva game,” coach Kirby Smart told Georgiadogs.com. “He made plays with his feet … that’s a dynamic he brings. It forces teams to defend us in other ways.

“This was his first opportunity to come into this environment and play Georgia-brand football. He made a lot of plays. He hit the guys who were open and helped us in the second half by doing a lot of run checks. I’m really proud of the way Stetson has led the team.”

The proud Georgia defense allowed its first touchdown in almost a month. Hard to quibble with that on a day when scoreboards exploded across the country.

“Auburn gave us their best shot, but you know the defense, we stick to our training,” defensive lineman Jordan Davis told Georgiadogs.com. “Auburn caught us slipping for one touchdown with Tank [Bigsby]. Hats off to them.

“But we hold ourselves to a high standard. When we get in that red zone, the offense wants to score, so we want to hold them to zero points, or at least a field goal. We don’t want them to get a touchdown. That is our mindset on defense.”

The Auburn win set up Georgia’s next big challenge, when College Gameday and 11th-ranked Kentucky visit Athens this Saturday. Yes, Kentucky, 6-0 for the first time since 1950, when they were coached by some fellow named Bryant.

Before the Bulldawg Faithful start channeling Larry Munson [“Have you checked the rest of the schedule?”] a sobering thought might be helpful.

This is college football, folks. Anything can, and probably will, happen.

Who could have imagined Texas A&M knocking off Alabama Saturday night? Not the same Aggies who just lost successive home games to Arkansas and Mississippi State. Not Alabama, winner of 100 straight games against unranked opponents.

Yes, the Aggies jumped out to an early lead. But when they finally fell behind in the fourth quarter, they went 65 yards in two minutes for a touchdown, held Alabama to a three-and-out, and drove 54 yards in two minutes for the winning field goal.

“I’m proud of my guys,” coach Jimbo Fisher told The Associated Press. “We made plays at critical times.”

“Hopefully, we’ll learn a lot from this,” Alabama coach Nick Saban told ESPN.com. “There are a lot of things we need to fix. I’m responsible for all of it.”

This is college football. Wake Forest is 6-0 for the first time since 1944. “We’re proud to get the win,” coach Dave Clawson told The Associated Press after the 40-37 overtime win over Syracuse, “but we have a lot more goals than 6-0.”

One week after being shut out at Georgia, Arkansas hung 51 on Ole Miss. And lost by a point. The two teams combined for an incredible 1,287 yards and 14 touchdowns. “I’ve been in games like this before,” Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin told The Associated Press. “And it’s a lot better when you win!”

You get the idea. It’s college football. Anything can happen.

Don’t rest easy, Dawgs.