The Bulldogs are saving a bigger celebration for a bigger game.
Aaron Murray passed for 208 yards and three touchdowns, freshman tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall each ran for more than 100 yards and No. 5 Georgia overwhelmed Auburn 38-0 on Saturday night, sending the Bulldogs back to the SEC championship game.
Georgia (9-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) got the first shutout for either team in the series since its 28-0 win in 1976. The Bulldogs, who have won four straight, appear to be peaking at the end of the regular season.
“I think we’ve been improving as we go and hopefully we can keep it going,” said coach Mark Richt.
Auburn (2-8, 0-7 SEC) was held to 238 yards, including 57 yards rushing, as its disappointing season with embattled coach Gene Chizik suffered another embarrassing low.
“It’s what you see,” Chizik said. “It’s been frustrating. Again, it’s just been one of those years where it has kind of snowballed in momentum and we haven’t been able to catch any.”
Georgia, the Eastern Division champion, earned its second straight trip to the Dec. 1 SEC championship game in Atlanta.
Top-ranked Alabama, beaten by No. 15 Texas A&M 29-24 on Saturday, can win the Western Division title by defeating Auburn on Nov. 24.
Georgia lost to Louisiana State in last year’s SEC championship game. This year, the Bulldogs want more.
“I think there’s a different feeling in everybody’s spirit that Atlanta is not the end of the road,” Richt said.
By the start of the fourth quarter, Bulldogs fans were the majority in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
“It was awesome,” Murray said. “We looked up midway through the third quarter and I was like, ‘Man, we’ve got more fans here than they do right now.’”
After the game, Georgia players rushed to corner of the end zone to celebrate with their faithful, who chanted “SEC! SEC!”
Gurley had 11 carries for 116 yards and a touchdown. Marshall had eight carries for 105 yards, including a 62-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Georgia’s most important win in its search for an SEC championship was a 17-9 defeat of then-No. 3 Florida on Oct. 27, but the Bulldogs struggled on offense in that game. The win over Auburn was the team’s most well-rounded win of the season.
The defense, led by Jarvis Jones’ two sacks and Bacarri Rambo’s interception and forced fumble, posted its first shutout in a SEC game since a 43-0 win over Vanderbilt in 2010.
The offense boasted impressive balance with 289 yards rushing and 208 yards passing. The Bulldogs had no turnovers and only three penalties for 15 yards.
Murray completed 18 of 24 passes with no interceptions and touchdown passes to Chris Conley, Malcolm Mitchell and Tavarres King. Murray, who completed his first 10 passes, was rested in the fourth quarter as backups Parker Welch and Christian LeMay finished the game.
Freshman Jonathan Wallace, making his second start for Auburn, completed 15 of 22 passes for 181 yards with one interception. Emory Blake had six catches for 104 yards.