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Sunday October 24th, 2021 11:18AM

No. 2 Georgia romps over No. 18 Auburn

By John Zenor AP Sports Writer
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AUBURN, Ala. — Stetson Bennett and No. 2 Georgia’s defense were more than enough to take care of Auburn yet again.

Bennett passed for 231 yards and two touchdowns and led the Bulldogs past No. 18 Auburn for the second straight year in a 34-10 victory Saturday even if the defense did allow an opponent to reach the end zone for a change.

The nation’s top defense gave up only its second touchdown of the year for the Bulldogs (6-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference), who were still without injured starting quarterback JT Daniels. None of that kept Georgia from another comfortable SEC win and a fifth straight in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.

Bennett, who made his first college start in a Top 10 matchup with Auburn (3-2, 1-1) last season, completed 14 of 21 passes and hit Ladd McConkey in stride for a 60-yard third quarter score. He also had a 30-yard run.

Daniels is out with a lat injury for the second straight week, along with some sidelined receivers.

“It’s next man up mentality,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “That’s what we talked about all week. We’ve got a lot of guys hurt and beat up, including the quarterback. We feel like he’s getting better, but Stetson played a heck of a game.”

But the Jordan-Hare Stadium crowd didn’t seem to bother the Bulldogs, who dominated in the trenches on both sides.

“We won the line of scrimmage battle,” Bennett said. “It was so much fun. I had a blast.”

Zamir White ran for 79 yards on 18 carries with two touchdowns, doing most of his damage in the second half.

Bo Nix and the Tigers came in averaging 40 points per game but couldn’t solve the Georgia defensive puzzle despite moving the ball at times. Nix completed 21 of 38 passes for 217 yards with an interception off a dropped ball a week after delivering a comeback win at LSU.

Georgia also sacked Nix four times and harried him all afternoon, and the Tigers had some other drops to boot. The Bulldogs allowed just 46 yards on 29 rushes.

“We’ve got to finish drives,” Auburn coach Bryan Harsin said. “That’s the most frustrating thing right now. We can drive the field and that really doesn’t matter if you don’t put points on the board.”

Auburn had failed fourth-down passes end its final drive of the first half and its opening one in the second. Nix griped about what he thought was a missed call on the first one intended for Ze’Vian Capers.

“The guy completely grabs him. I thought it should have definitely been a pass interference,” he said. “Obviously if it had been them they probably would have called it, but that’s just part of the game, part of the rivalry.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Georgia: The nation’s best defense mostly dominated, chasing Nix around the backfield and stuffing the run. Still looks like a team on its way to the SEC championship game.

Auburn: Showed it still has a long way to go to catch the SEC powers. The tone was set with an opening drive that stalled just shy of the end zone — and another one that did the same just before the half. The bright spot: Both losses have been to Top 10 opponents.

RED ZONE

Georgia did trail for the first time this season, if only 3-0 after the game’s first drive. The Bulldogs, who have thrived in red zone defense, allowed scores in two of three trips by Auburn, but one was a field goal.

“We have a mind-set on defense: Nobody in the end zone,” Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis said. “We preach that every week.”

SMOKED

Auburn safety Smoke Monday was called for targeting against Georgia for the second straight year. This one was for a head-on hit on a scrambling Bennett on the opening play of the second quarter near the goal line. He missed the second half of both games.

POLL IMPLICATION

Auburn could fall out of the rankings with its second loss.

UP NEXT

Georgia hosts No. 16 Kentucky, which entered the weekend as the only other unbeaten SEC East team.

Auburn visits No. 13 Arkansas, an 52-51 loser at No. 17 Mississippi, in an SEC West showdown.

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