First and foremost, a victory would make UGA bowl eligible. This may not sound like that big a deal with Kentucky still on the schedule, but, as we found out in 2006, there are no guarantees in the SEC. Then finishing out the year against Georgia Tech doesn't offer significant confidence in gaining that 6th win in Atlanta. So, while it may seem awful 1996 of me, gaining bowl eligibility this weekend is very important. Not to mention, that beating Auburn would be the first step to getting to 7 or 8 wins and possibly bowling somewhere nicer than Shreveport.
Second, Rodney Garner was quoted this week as saying, "Winning helps recruiting. That's the single most important factor is winning." Just so happens, that we'll be hosting one of the largest and most talented prospect pools in Richt's tenure between the hedges tomorrow. Some have speculated that whiffs in recruiting have been the primary contributor to the 2009 struggles. If that's the case (which I personally don't agree with), then winning tomorrow might help sway more of the top high school talent to come to Athens.
Third, beating Auburn is the turn-around that brought the 2006 season from the brink of total disaster to the momentum that carried into the 2007 #2 finish. Personally, I'm not one that subscribes to the parallels to the 2006 season (the difference at QB and the current trend of defensive ineptitude being the main 2 reasons), but finishing strong would still go a long way toward propelling the team to a potential championship 2010 season. This is not the same top 5 Auburn team that we beat in 2006, but they are favored, and we are reeling much the same as we were 3 years ago.
So there are 3 reasons that beating the Tigers ... er ... War Eagle ... er ... the Plainsmen ... er ... beating Auburn is very important. The fan(atic) in me wants to say that I hope we win, but still maybe give up 20+ points to help ensure we have a new defensive coordinator after the season. I just can't do it. My hope is that history has already dictated the offseason decisions that need to be made. It has just been so long since I've seen the previously routine suffocating defenses wearing the red and black. Last week was a little taste (albeit against Tennessee Tech), and now I want more. I want to see Washington, Houston and Robinson harassing Chris Todd in the back field, I want to see Rennie Curran blasting Ben Tate behind the line of scrimmage, and I want to see Brandon Boykin high stepping it into the end zone on his pick-six.