Wizards

No. 5 Georgia guns for SEC East title at Auburn

No. 5 Georgia guns for SEC East title at Auburn

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Auburn remembers being where No. 5 Georgia stands: a win away from the SEC championship game with a national title still within grasp.

It was only two years ago, after all. Before the Bulldogs' impressive rise and the Tigers' dramatic fall.

Georgia (8-1, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) can clinch its second straight trip to the league championship game with a victory over Auburn (2-7, 0-6) on Saturday night.

The Tigers snapped a five-game losing streak last weekend against New Mexico State but are still a longshot to win an SEC game since that requires a win over the Bulldogs or No. 1 Alabama.

``Us playing big in a game like this is huge,'' Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. ``Our guys catching a little bit of momentum from last week. This is just a huge rivalry game.

``We've been on the flip side of this where we've got to win to win our side of the league. As a matter of fact, it was against Georgia when we were in the exact same position here at home. Hey, we're excited about the challenge.''

The stakes are pretty clear for the Bulldogs. Win, they're in the SEC title game. Lose, and Florida goes to Atlanta instead.

Georgia comes into this game a 15-1/2-point favorite in what's billed as the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry. The border battle has been traditionally competitive with Auburn holding a slender 54-53-8 edge.

But the gap has widened in Georgia's favor since Cam Newton rallied Auburn to a 49-31 win two years ago to clinch the SEC Western Division crown against a Georgia team on its way to a 6-7 season. The Bulldogs produced the biggest margin in the rivalry dating back to 1892 last season with a 45-7 win.

Now, the Tigers are in a tailspin and Chizik's job might be in serious jeopardy.

Richt blames the ultra-competitive SEC, even if that's not how frustrated Auburn fans view it.

``I think the big thing is just our league itself,'' Richt said. ``There is truly a very, very fine line between winning and losing. There are a lot of good teams in our league in my opinion that still might have a losing record in league play. You lose some close games and sometimes you win the close games.

``Sometimes you get a break here or there and you grab momentum, and it serves you well for the rest of the year, and sometimes you don't ever find it.''

Time's running out on Auburn's search.

Quarterback Aaron Murray and the Georgia offense face a defense that surrended 63 points to No. 15 Texas A&M two weeks ago but also a team with nothing to lose.

``That makes them extremely dangerous,'' Bulldogs wide receiver Tavarres King said. ``We know they want to ruin our season. What more could they possibly want than to ruin our dreams for the SEC or the national title? You know that's what they want to do. I told the guys you don't want that to happen. You don't want to feel like you did after South Carolina. That's all the motivation you need right there.''

Georgia has rebounded from a 35-7 loss at No. 12 South Carolina to win three straight, including a victory over No. 7 Florida. Now, the Bulldogs are moving on without receiver Marlon Brown, who's out with a torn ACL.

The defense has allowed just 19 points total in those games and now faces the league's 13th-rated offense and freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace. Wallace will make his second straight start and first in an SEC game.

Chizik said this defense is ``night and day'' from the one the freshman faced against New Mexico State, when the Tigers scored 35 second-half points. Wallace acknowledges that, and the challenge of facing a defense led by All-America linebacker Jarvis Jones, who has 8.5 sacks and five forced fumbles in seven games.

Wallace also has no doubt Georgia will try to rattle him early with pressure.

``Of course. Why not?'' he said. ``From what I think about Georgia they are going to come for me and I'm going to have to make some plays Saturday. That's just what it's going to come down to. Of course we're going to be able to run the ball some, but it's really going to come down to whether or not I can make the plays that need to be made.

``I'm going to step up to the plate. That's what this game is about, is competing. It's just one of those things where I have to grow up quick. I'm ready for the challenge. It's going to be a lot of fun Saturday.''

---

AP Sports Writer Charles Odum in Athens, Ga., contributed to this report.

Quick Links

Spurs trading Kawhi Leonard to Raptors in deal involving DeMar DeRozan, per report

derozan-leonard.png
USA TODAY Sports

Spurs trading Kawhi Leonard to Raptors in deal involving DeMar DeRozan, per report

The NBA offseason has been nothing short of entertaining.

Overnight ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Toronto Raptors have agreed to a deal to acquire forward Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs in a trade package that includes guard DeMar DeRozan. 

Leaving San Antonio with Leonard is Danny Green, while the Raptors are dealing DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round pick, according to the report

As of early this morning, only DeRozan had been informed of the trade. This trade has reportedly been in talks for several weeks, almost falling through multiple times. 

According to sources of ESPN's Chris Haynes, Leonard has no desire to play in Toronto while DeRozan was told he would not be traded by members of Toronto's front office during summer league in Las Vegas. 

Leonard was open early into the offseaosn about wanting to be traded away from the Spurs and there were even talks of the Wizards being interested in him. 

DeRozan, a four-time All-Star, has three years $83 million left on his contract that includes an early-termination option for the 2020-21 season. .

MORE NBA NEWS: 

Quick Links

10 Questions in 10 days: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

10 Questions in 10 days: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart 

No. 9: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

No. 8: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

The Redskins had to improve the defensive line this offseason. The defense ranked dead last against the run in 2017, and without improvement up front defensively, the playoffs would again be out of reach in 2018. 

And for the second straight season, Washington tried. 

The team selected Daron Payne out of Alabama with their first-round pick and Tim Settle out of Virginia Tech in the fifth round. The front office also waived under-performing Terrell McClain in the offseason and moved on from veteran A.J. Francis.

Perhaps most important, the team should have 2017 first-rounder Jonathan Allen completely healthy this fall. He and Matt Ioannidis looked like a strong front in 2017 before a foot injury shut down Allen for the year in Week 5. Add in Anthony Lanier, who flashed big-time sack potential, and the Redskins have a strong, young nucleus.  

But how does it all work?

In the base 3-4 scheme, Payne might have the strength to play nose tackle. Settle definitely has the size for the nose. Both are rookies, however, and will need to learn a lot, and fast, to start Week 1. Veteran Stacy McGee, coming off groin surgery, might be able to hold off the rookies if he is fully healthy. When a nose is on the field, expect Allen and Ioannidis to line up at the defensive tackle spots. If he's not playing nose, Payne will rotate in at tackle as well. Another veteran, Ziggy Hood, will provide depth at tackle, if he makes the team. 

In the nickel package, which the team deploys more than half of their snaps, expect to see a healthy rotation of Allen, Payne, Ioannidis and Lanier. Keeping those players fresh should allow interior pocket pressure, and that could be great news for Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith

With Payne and Allen the headliners, and Ioannidis and Lanier valuable, and Settle capable at the nose, the Redskins have five D-line roster spots about locked down. 

Last year, the team kept six defensive linemen coming out of camp. If McGee is healthy, that spot will be his. If he's not, Hood likely hangs on. It's also possible the team keeps seven D-linemen, particularly as they monitor McGee's groin injury. 

The good news is last year, due to injuries and the talent on the roster, a number of players were forced into spots they didn't truly belong. Hood doesn't have the true size to play nose, but he was forced into the position. Lanier is best served as an interior pass rusher, but was forced to be a run stuffer. 

With more investments on the line, and better luck in the training room, the 2018 Redskins D-line should have more people playing where they belong. And that could go a long way. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

#REDSKINSTALK PODCAST

Don't forget to subscribe to the #RedskinsTalk podcast, hosted by JP Finlay.

Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below.