ATLANTA — Shaking off a blowout loss to Auburn just three weeks ago, Jake Fromm threw two touchdown passes and No. 6 Georgia made its bid for a spot in the College Football Playoff with a 28-7 victory over the No. 4 Tigers in the Southeastern Conference championship game Saturday.
Auburn (10-3) was the hottest team in the country, rolling into Atlanta after wins over Georgia and then-No. 1 Alabama in its last three games. But the Tigers were stymied by two crucial turnovers, a blocked field goal and a Georgia team eager to make up for its embarrassing 40-17 defeat to the Tigers.
Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and the freshman D’Andre Swift provided a much more effective running game for Georgia than it had in the first meeting, which opened up things for the freshman Fromm, who completed 16 of 22 passes for 183 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown to Isaac Nauta in the second quarter and a 6-yarder to Terry Godwin with just over 13 minutes remaining that essentially sealed Georgia’s victory.
The Bulldogs claimed their first S.E.C. title since 2005 and capped an impressive rise in Kirby Smart’s second season as coach. Georgia went 8-5 a year ago, and Smart, a defensive coordinator under Nick Saban, insisted he was establishing a culture that would return the team to national prominence.
Georgia (12-1), which was No. 6 in the latest C.F.P. standings, will surely move into the top four after its dominating performance against the Tigers. Auburn was ranked second in the C.F.P. poll but managed only 259 yards after piling up 488 in the rout of Georgia on Nov. 11.
Swift, another impressive Georgia freshman, finished off the Bulldogs’ victory by breaking loose for a 64-yard touchdown run with 10 minutes 34 seconds remaining. The Georgia line opened up a huge hole through the left side, receiver Javon Wims made a key block on the perimeter and Swift dashed to the end zone without being touched.
Auburn started out the game as if it was headed for another big win.
The Tigers moved 75 yards in 10 plays, capped by Jarrett Stidham’s 6-yard scoring pass to Nate Craig-Myers. Early in the second quarter, Auburn pushed into position to extend its lead, facing second-and-6 at the Georgia 14.
That was when the game suddenly turned.
Stidham dropped back to throw, couldn’t find anyone open and didn’t sense linebacker Davin Bellamy coming up behind him. Bellamy stripped the ball away and Roquan Smith fell on it for the Bulldogs at the 16.
Georgia drove the other way for the tying score and tacked on the first of two field goals by Rodrigo Blankenship for a 10-7 lead at the half.
Auburn wasted another scoring opportunity in the third quarter when Daniel Carlson’s 31-yard field-goal attempt was blocked by DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle. Then, trailing by 13-7, another turnover on the first play of the fourth quarter finished off the Tigers.
Kerryon Johnson, who played despite an ailing shoulder, was stripped of the ball and Smith scooped it up again at the Auburn 39. Fromm quickly guided Georgia to another touchdown, and the celebration was on for the Bulldogs and their fans.