AUBURN, Ala. - Greetings from the press box here at Jordan-Hare Stadium, where I can hear cheers from the Auburn faithful ... every time Texas A&M does something against Alabama.
Whether there are cheers for the home team against Georgia, well, that's a whole different thing.
The brewing situation in the northern part of Alabama is important to both teams here today: Any hopes that Georgia has of getting to the BCS championship game probably depend on Alabama winning. Either way the Bulldogs probably need some help - two of the remaining unbeatens losing - but it figures that a Georgia win over an unbeaten Alabama in the SEC championship game would be seen as much more impressive than a win over a one-loss Alabama.
Of course, that's predicated on Georgia reaching the game in Atlanta, which requires beating Auburn. So we should probably see about that.
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The Bulldogs will be trying to do so with a bit of a reconfigured offensive line: Right guard Chris Burnette, nursing a shoulder injury, did not make the trip. Head coach Mark Richt had said Wednesday that Burnette would probably travel, but evidently the shoulder wasn't in good enough shape to do so.
The new lineup likely will be Mark Beard at left tackle, with Kenarious Gates shifting to right guard. That was the lineup last week after Burnette got hurt. But Austin Long as also received some practice time at left tackle, so it bears watching what Will Friend decides to do there.
The reserve O-linemen on the trip: Austin Long, Hunter Long, Zach DeBell, Preston Mobley, Watts Dantzler and Xzaver Ward.
Now, to receiver, where the team is without Marlon Brown:
First off, Tavarres King will be wearing No. 15 tonight to honor Brown, his fellow senior. That's a nice gesture.
The other receivers on the trip are: Rantavious Wooten, Malcolm Mitchell, Rhett McGowan, Chris Conley, Taylor Bradberry and Justin Scott-Wesley. No big surprises there.
Outside linebacker Chase Vasser (shoulder) is not healthy enough to play and did not make the trip. The backup OLBs are T.J. Stripling, James DeLoach and Josh Dawson. Ramik Wilson, listed as an inside linebacker, can also play outside.
One other injury note: Fullback Merritt Hall (ankle) did make the trip. Not sure how much he'll play, given that four fullbacks, including Corey Campbell, are on the travel roster.
Meanwhile, I'm struck by how different a feel it is than the last time I was here, in 2010:
The traffic coming in to Jordan-Hare was almost nonexistent, and that's saying something, given Auburn has the reputation for the worst gameday stadium traffic. And of the fans who are here, a ton of them were Bulldogs. So it'll be interesting to see how full the stadium is when the game kicks off, and the breakdown of fans.