During the 2019 football season, The Villager will run comments from a focus group on results of the previous Auburn University game and a prognostication for the upcoming game. We’ve collectively labeled the group, Panel of Wanna-Be Experts, or POWE! for short.

Here are the panel's comments for the Tigers' home showdown with rival Georgia on Saturday:


Went into the season thinking Auburn would beat either Alabama or Georgia, or possibly both, based largely on a big home field advantage.

Nothing happened last weekend to change that view.

But first to the task at hand — the Georgia Bulldogs, now perhaps, Auburn’s most reviled opponent, present Coach Gus Malzahn and Tigers a chance to turn the series around.

With Georgia oozing bluechip talent on both sides of the ball, the Bulldogs have dominated the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry over the past 10 years with a 7-3 advantage.

Malzahn is only 2-5 against Georgia — the “Prayer at Jordan” in 2013 and the Tigers’ stirring 40-17 romp over the Dawgs two years ago.

Georgia, which hasn’t won a national championship since Herschel Walker’s freshman year in 1980, came into 2019 hoping lightning might strike again. 

But lowly South Carolina seriously damaged those dreams with a stunning 20-17, two overtime upset of the Dawgs in Athens. Auburn’s hopes to win the SEC and make the playoffs ended at LSU three weeks ago.

With his team having two weeks to prepare for Georgia, Malzahn has to like the fact that Bo Nix has done his best work at home and he’ll likely see the return of a 100 percent Boobee Whitlow to supplement rising freshman D.J. Williams. 

But the ultimate difference-makers in this game Saturday afternoon will be Auburn’s always reliable defense and the Jordan-Hare crowd.

Even though it has signature wins over Notre Dame and Florida, Georgia has otherwise played a less challenging schedule than Auburn.

Last Saturday in Athens, the Dawgs, with four field goals and a couple of touchdown passes from Jake Fromm to ex-Tiger commit George Pickens, subdued a Missouri team missing its top two playmakers.

Florida notwithstanding, the Dawg offense — in a true road game — has not met a defense as ferocious as Auburn’s. 

Look for the Tigers, behind the passing of Nix, the running of Williams/Whitlow and a stout defense, to notch their second signature win of 2019. 

I always like the Tigers’ chances at home as an underdog. It won’t be easy, but make it: 

Auburn 27, Georgia 24. 

Bob Lowry, retired political reporter for United Press International, and three daily newspapers



The Ole Miss game was a surprise to everyone. I should have seen it coming. After a gut wrenching loss at LSU, then a team coming into Jordan-Hare as a three-TD underdog, how could we be motivated to play? Not to mention all the players  we held out because of injuries.  Ole Miss had a bye week before coming to Auburn; they were desperate for a win. After two years of probation and no bowl game, getting to a bowl was their main objective this year. This was an ugly win for us. Maybe Gus’ worse play calling this season. Nevertheless, a win is a win.

The Ole Miss game was Military Appreciation Night. I want to thank Auburn and their staff for putting on such an outstanding program. Someone did a whale of a job getting all the WWII veterans to the game on such a cold night. They were all well over 90 years of age.

We needed the bye week for injuries to heal and for game preparations. On to the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. Georgia’s defense is playing well. They shut out Missouri Saturday night, 27-0. We have only scored 20 points each of our last two games. We will have to score 30-35 points to beat UGA. Our defense will control the Dawg’s scoring, but we can’t shut them out. They have too many offensive weapons.

With two weeks of rest and a healthy Whitlow and D.J. Williams, we should be able to run the football. There is no Gatewood for fans to call on to go in, Nix should step up and be the 5-star QB that everyone was raging about before the season started. He’s not a true freshman now — this is the 10th game of the season. So far this year, the 2019 Auburn football team has won all the games that some predicted plus Oregon. We have the ability to win the three remaining home games. 

Remember Gus is 11-0 after a bye week. UGA is not the same team they were the last two years. This year they lost to a very bad South Carolina team. To win we will have to beat Georgia and the officials. We will not get any good calls Saturday. The SEC office wants UGA in Atlanta. 

Kirby Smart coaches like Pat Dye. Great recruiter, great motivator, but not so good on-the-field coach.

Our team and coaches need to stay focused this week. There will be many rumors about Gus and the vacancy at Arkansas. We have too much going on to let some outside rumor disrupt our preparation. This will be a hard-fought game. The team that wants it the most will win. In a close one, Auburn 31, Georgia 27.

Wendell McLain, Auburn retired brigadier general, Alabama National Guard



As all Auburn fans know, our game with No. 5 Georgia is the Deep South’s oldest football rivalry, going back to 1892. Currently, Georgia leads the series at 59-56 with eight ties. We typically have a good game against the current leader of the SEC East, so picking the winner of this year’s contest won’t be easy.

When South Carolina inexplicably defeated Georgia in Athens earlier in the season, I had a good feeling about our chances to defeat the Bulldogs. However, when they rolled over Florida, who had defeated us 24-13 six weeks ago, I started to have my doubts. As far as playoff spots are concerned, Georgia still is in the mix and Auburn is not. There’s no doubt that they will arrive in Jordan-Hare highly motivated to add another W to their resume.

Georgia’s OT loss to the now 4-6 Gamecocks, who lost to Appalachian State at home last Saturday, is still a huge puzzlement to me. Without that uncharacteristic lapse five weeks ago, the Dawgs would definitely be in the top four and coming to the Plains on cruise control for a playoff spot. Their defense has already pitched three shutouts for the first time since 1981 and, even more impressive, it has not allowed a single rushing touchdown all season long. Fromm may not be the best or the flashiest QB in the country or even in the conference, but he doesn’t make many mistakes. Their offensive line does a good job of protecting him as well.

Some may say that No. 13 Auburn, with two losses, has less to play for, but I don’t agree with that. I believe our players, especially the guys like Davidson, Brown, and Dinson who came back for their senior seasons, are all just as eager to win on Saturday as the Dawgs are. After our loss to LSU, Brown said that they had still 87,451 reasons to play hard. Our fans should give them the encouragement they need to rise to the occasion and to get to Fromm more often than other defenses have done. We also need to be roaring in the stands to make it as difficult as we can for Georgia. 

No player wants to lose as a matter of personal pride, not to mention school pride. I think our Men in Blue will show up eager to finish the season strong, beginning with knocking off the No. 5 team in the country. We all remember the last time the Dawgs came to town and left with Uga’s little bulldog tail tucked down between his hind legs after losing 40-17. (Of course, we also know that they got revenge in the rematch just three weeks later with a 28-7 victory at the SEC Championship game in the Georgia Dome.)

The Dawgs are favored to win this Saturday but I’m going against the odds and picking our Tigers to play their best game of the season and pull off a 27-24 upset. 

Betty Burgess, retired English teacher, Auburn grad and lifelong Auburn fan



I’m glad we were “off” this past Saturday. Auburn’s coaches and players could watch the Georgia game and the Alabama game.

After seeing LSU pound on Alabama, it proved we didn’t look as bad as people said we did against LSU. Bama looked shell-shocked, including Nick Saben. The O-A News gave Alabama a “D” on defense, which is probably the first in years and years. The off-week also gave some of our players a chance to rest and recover from injuries. Hopefully, everyone will be full speed.

And it appears Georgia got banged up pretty good against Missouri. They lost their best receiver with a shoulder injury. I don’t know the extent of the injury, so he may not be able to play against Auburn. They also lost their right guard and center to ankle or leg injuries.

And their right tackle went out with an undisclosed injury. But their defense will pick up the slack, as they are rated as one of the best in the SEC.

If Auburn can play good defense like it did against LSU, we can hold Georgia in check. Our defense should be able to shut down, or certainly hold down, Georgia’s running game. Then it becomes a question of whether we can establish a solid passing game. If so, with them having injury issues, we can both control their offense and show some offense of our own. And I think playing at home makes a big difference.

I might be overly optimistic, but I think Auburn pulls a big “upset” and beats Georgia 28 to 21.

James Sprayberry, local attorney and longtime Auburn season ticket holder



Amen corner begins this weekend with the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry as the Georgia Bulldogs come to Jordan-Hare. The Tigers have become the Mutts’ punching bag, winning only three times in the last 14 games and one of those was the Prayer in Jordan-Hare. That is a pitiful statistic in a series that has been historically dead even.

The Tiger defense dominated a good offense its last time out against Ole Miss and you can expect the same Saturday. Georgia’s offense relies on running the football and Auburn stops the run. The Bulldogs don’t do anything complicated on offense, and they aren’t particularly dynamic, but they execute it well. Auburn’s front seven will have plenty of opportunities to impact this game. They will keep the Tigers in the game, but can the offense pull its weight?

Gus’ offense just has not showed up against good teams the last two seasons. Versus teams with a winning record, Auburn scores half of what it does against teams with a losing record; a mystifying statistic given the head coach’s offensive acumen. Georgia owns the conference’s best defense, allowing only 10 points and 75 rushing yards per game. The matchup is not good for Auburn, but the potential is there. The offensive play-calling was good against Ole Miss, but the team could not finish drives — the Tigers put up over 500 yards that only resulted in 20 points. Settling for field goals won’t win this game.

Auburn has the defense and the home crowd to win this game and win it convincingly. They have had a week to get ready for this stretch run and I expect we will see more urgency with the play-calling. Gus is undefeated coming off a bye week and that streak continues as the Tigers win 27-17.

Brandon Hughes, Lee County

district attorney



This past weekend sure had some interesting developments on the gridiron with some teams previously without an “L” getting the dreaded letter added to their season resumes. We even had a rodent whip up on a lion! You don’t get to see that every day down at the town square! 

The AP and Coaches poll rankings had to make some modifications, which weren’t exactly to some folks liking. 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the tilt that had the attention of everyone around these parts was another “Game of the Century” ( what was this one? Like number 87 in the series of GOTC) to the northwest. Regardless of who you favored, this was a good game. It had all the drama of a soap opera with the President in town, ESPN GameDay, a coach who needs a translator, a couple of legitimate Heisman contenders and not to be out done, some guy attacking a ballon. Yessir, it had a little for everyone. 

Oh wait, they also had a football game. We could have told our elephant friends those purple tigers are for real but it was best to let them see for themselves. 

Back to the business at hand. The woofers of Athens are coming by to pay a visit this Saturday and our guys can expect a full 60 minutes of action! Except for a “what was that all about” moment against S. Carolina (at home no less!), the red coat dudes have been doing pretty well. 

QB Fromm and RB Swift are pretty nifty with a football in their hands, and WRs Cager and Pickens are not too shabby in their own right. 

The Dog defense has held opponents to an average of 260 yards a game, allowing just 74 yards rushing and 185 passing. The word “stout” comes to mind. 

Our guys have had a week off to get rested for this game and we sure needed it. I believe our defense will be ready to put a dent in the UGA offense and if the AU O-line can give a little time to young Nix then we should see an interesting contest with a positive outcome. 

This will no doubt be a three element game. It will take an efficient effort by our offense, a shutdown effort by our defense and a packed-in vocal crowd of Auburn faithful to get this "W." I think it happens.  AU 24,  GA 20.

Jay Jones, Lee County sheriff



I keep going back and forth on this one. I think we have a shot at Georgia if we have some offense. But both times we’ve played a good defense, LSU and Florida — we lost. Georgia has an excellent defense, second only to Auburn’s. They have had some offensive woes of their own.  If we can get a little less predictable and get the ball in our playmakers' hands, I think we have a shot. We got to make catches — a bad case of the dropsies hit us in the Ole Miss game. 

Hopefully, our defense will continue to ring the bell — a defensive touchdown might just win it for us. No doubt the crowd at Jordan -Hare will be rocking. I think we play up to our competition and win a nail-biter. 

Auburn 22, Georgia 19.

Barry Mask, Auburn's first "Friend of Aubie," director of marketing for River Bank & Trust 

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