ATHENS -- Christian Robinson has watched the clips of last year’s Georgia-Auburn game that have been going around that highlight the perceived late hits.
The Georgia linebacker also remembers Auburn quarterback Cam Newton blowing kisses at the opposition and giving a late stiff-arm to a teammate.
“Maybe a little cocky,” Robinson said. “But at the same time they were winning.”
This year, Robinson and his teammates hope the roles are reversed, although without the extracurricular stuff.
Auburn won last year’s edition of the Deep South’s oldest rivalry on its way to the BCS championship. This year it’s Georgia that has something big to play for, although not quite as big.
By kickoff at 3:30 p.m., the Bulldogs (7-2 overall, 5-1 SEC) should know if they can clinch the SEC East Division title with a win. If South Carolina (5-2 SEC) loses to Florida in its game, which starts at noon, then Georgia can win the division either by beating Auburn or Kentucky the following week.
But if South Carolina wins, Georgia must knock Auburn (6-3, 4-2) or the division race goes to the Gamecocks.
“We haven’t done anything yet. And this’ll be an opportunity to do that,” Robinson said.
The division stakes would normally be enough motivation. But the memory of last year’s 49-31 loss at Auburn is also going to drive a few Bulldogs.
That game saw a near-brawl at the end, with Georgia players upset at perceived late hits against quarterback Aaron Murray by Auburn’s Nick Fairley. Those are the main points of the YouTube videos going around.
But Robinson also pointed to some other incidents, namely by Newton.
“He was blowing kisses,” Robinson said. “If you go look at it, he about smacked (safety Bacarri) Rambo in the face. It looked like an illegal stiff arm. It looked like he was actually going after Rambo. Rambo’s slowing up, because it looks like he’s about to run out of bounds, and (Newton) hits him.
“But he’s gone. He’s not there anymore. They have other guys that can make plays and we’ve gotta control those guys.”
It’s obviously good news for Georgia that Newton and Fairley both left early for the NFL draft, where they were first-round picks. Auburn still has tailback Michael Dyer, who ranks second in the conference in rushing yards. But otherwise, the stats are ugly. The Tigers rank 108th in the nation in passing offense, 89th in total offense, 75th in total defense and 84th in run defense.
The absence of so many players involved in last year’s game is pointed to by Georgia players as the reason they’re not using it as motivation. But while players largely said the right things at first, when pressed they opened up.
“Ben Jones will definitely use that. Because he’s still upset,” tight end Orson Charles said of Georgia’s senior center. “And I’m still kind of upset, now that you brought that up. So we’re definitely gonna approach this game like it was last year’s team.”
Senior Tavarres King was one of those who said he hasn’t thought much about last year’s game. A lot of people might find that hard to believe, King was told.
“I’m sure there are some guys that are chomping at the bit to go out there and hit somebody, and relieve some stress,” King said with a laugh. “But from a team standpoint I don’t think a year ago is on our mind at all.”