ATHENS, Ga. - Georgia ruined Auburn's national title hopes last season. The Tigers can return the favor Saturday by dimming Georgia's hopes for an Southeastern Conference East title.
"Last year here, they disappointed our season," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said Sunday. "I just got through talking about it, matter of fact. It's hard to forget those type (of games)."
Unranked Georgia routed fifth-ranked Auburn 37-15 last season to snap out of a funk in which it lost four of five games.
"Georgia came in and hit us from play one and never let up," Tuberville said.
Tenth-ranked Georgia (7-2, 4-2) now needs to beat No. 18 Auburn (7-3, 4-2) in Saturday's game (3:30 p.m., CBS-Ch. 12) at Sanford Stadium to remain in the hunt for the Eastern Division title.
Since 1996, the higher ranked team in the series is 4-7 including losses each of the past two years.
"Because the game is kind of set late in the year, I think there's been times where we've spoiled their party and there's been times when they've spoiled our party over the years," Georgia coach Mark Richt said.
If Georgia is going to continue its conference title game chase to Atlanta, it will need to buck history -- recent and not so recent -- in the Deep South's oldest rivalry.
The Bulldogs, who remain 10th in the latest BCS standings, haven't beaten Florida and Auburn in the same season since 1982, a fact Richt will be sure to remind his team.
"I know that it's been an awful long time since we've beaten Florida and Auburn in the same year," Richt said.
The visitors feel right at home in the other team's home stadium: Auburn is 18-9 in Athens. Georgia is 13-9-2 in Auburn.
"It's had a lot of history of the visiting team winning," Richt said. "We'd like to stop that from happening."
The Tigers have won six of their past seven trips to Sanford Stadium since 1991 including their last visit in 2005 when they outlasted Georgia 31-30. The lone exception was 2003 when Georgia won 26-7.
Auburn has won six of its past seven this season and boasts the SEC's top defense, giving up 14.5 points per game.
The Tigers stumbled to a 1-2 start with a 26-23 overtime loss to South Florida and a 19-14 home loss to Mississippi State. The only loss since then was a 30-24 defeat to Louisiana State, now ranked No. 2.
"They've improved, we've improved," Tuberville said. "This is a case of two teams that started off pretty slow that have kind of found themselves."
The Tigers are coming off a 35-3 win over Tennessee Tech, formerly of the Division I-AA ranks. Quarterback Brandon Cox played three series and got the rest of the day off.
Tuberville had his players back off film study during "a good mental week for us" and played mostly base defense.
The Bulldogs need to beat Auburn and No. 24 Kentucky on Nov. 17 and have No. 22 Tennessee lose to either Arkansas, Vanderbilt or Kentucky to make it to the SEC title game.
"The big thing about rivalries is you can't worry about anything that's on the line," Tuberville said.
"You think too much about records or conference championships or getting to Atlanta, you start thinking about all of that at the end of the year, then it jumps up and bites you."
Reach Marc Weiszer at email@example.com.