Georgia, Auburn Headline Weekend of NCEA Competition

RELEASE: February 22, 2013

The meeting of No.1 and No.2 is the highlight of this weekend's NCEA schedule. Overall there's a lot to follow on Saturday and Sunday. My brief preview of all the scheduled NCEA competition this week is below.

No.1 University of Georgia vs. No2. Auburn University

Indy Roper and the No.2 Auburn Tigers head to Bishop, GA to take on the No.1 Georgia Bulldogs (Danielle Long - Sophomore at Auburn)
Indy Roper and the No.2 Auburn Tigers head to Bishop, GA to take on the No.1 Georgia Bulldogs (Danielle Long - Sophomore at Auburn)
These two teams were separated by 1 point in the latest coaches poll and both are in the middle of win streaks. One of those streaks will end Saturday in Bishop, GA. The team that keeps theirs alive is very likely to be the No.1 team in the nation when the next poll is released.

When the Tigers and Bulldogs met in Alabama in November Auburn won pretty handily. In their 13-7 victory the Tiger’s dominating 3-7 Hunter Seat Team performance was the difference. They will need their hunters to play a big role again this week if they hope for a repeat victory.

"Playing the top-ranked team at their place may be a tough order,” Auburn head coach greg Williams told, “ but our team and coaches are really eager to get on this one. This will be a battle of two great teams.”

Both teams performed similarly against South Carolina, their most recent common opponent, with Georgia winning 11-8 and Auburn 10-9, and they are evaluated almost evenly by coaches poll voters. So it would seem that they are evenly matched. Auburn has a better record, 6-1 compared to Georgia's 5-3, but many of those matches have been very close, and this meeting will be in Bishop, where the Bulldogs rarely lose. From every angle this is a marquee matchup with both teams standing to gain a lot from the win.

If Auburn wins, they establish themselves as the undoubted No.1 and become the team to beat in the NCEA. If Georgia wins they will have avenged two loses from the fall season, tightened their grip on the No.1 ranking, and head into their last three regular seasons meets on a roll.

Delaware State University vs. No.1 Georgia and No.2 Auburn

Overshadowed by the Auburn-Georgia matchup are the Delaware State Hornets, who travel to Georgia to take on the top two teams in the country on consecutive days. They face Auburn on Saturday afternoon and Georgia on Sunday. The Hornets haven’t won yet this year, so beating either of these teams will be a challenge, but would be quite a feat if accomplished.

No.3 Oklahoma State University vs. No.6 Baylor University

Oklahoma State travels to Baylor on Saturday for a Big 12 conference matchup. The Cowgirls defeated the Bears 17-7 at home during the fall season, so the Bears will look for revenge, and an upset. But the cowgirls have been on a roll as of late, winning five straight matches and climbing to No.3 in the rankings. They are looking for a couple of decisive wins this weekend to help establish themselves as one of the best, if not the best, team in the country.

No.3 Oklahoma State University vs. No.8 Texas Christian University

If they get past Baylor on Saturday, the Cowgirls will look for a weekend sweep against the Horned Frogs. OSU lost a close 10-9 decision to TCU in November, so a win would provide not only satisfactory revenge, but would be a mark of improvement.  TCU is coming off a couple of wins though, and won’t go down easily at home. Their only losses this year have all been close calls against good teams. That win in November was no fluke.

No.5 South Carolina University vs. No.6 Texas A&M University

Both of these teams are reeling and need a win. Since defeating Texas A&M 11-8 in November, the Gamecocks have lost 4 straight and dropped from No.1 to No.5 in the polls. The Aggies haven’t been in action a whole lot since then, but they suffered a pretty bad 16-8 loss at the hands of Oklahoma State three weeks ago. South Carolina won their first meeting this season 11-8 in Texas. At home, needing a win, the Gamecocks will be tough to beat.

No.9 Southern Methodist University vs. No.10 South Dakota State University

These two teams are meeting for the first time this year in what should be a good Hunter Seat matchup. SMU is coming off a tiebreaker loss to Baylor, but has been a solid team throughout the year (they currently have only a Hunter Seat team). Since a trio of loses to start the year the SDSU Jackrabbits haven’t lost, and they’ve even managed an 8-8 tiebreaker win over current No.1 Georgia. 

Sacred Heart University vs. No.9 Southern Methodist University and No.10 South Dakota State University

Before they meet on Sunday, the Mustangs and Jackrabbits will both face Sacred Heart at the Jackrabbits home arena, the DeHann center, on Saturday. Sacred Heart participates primarily in IHSA competition, but will still be a test for these two nationally ranked teams.

Andrew Minnick is the editor of the Equestrian Weekly newsletter. Connect with him on Twitter - @ahminnick