As game time approaches to the 2010 SEC Championship Game in Atlanta, the stakes couldnâ€™t be higher for the top-ranked Auburn Tigers.
Unfortunately for Auburn, South Carolina knows this just as well and will be looking to spoil the Tigersâ€™ dream season right before it becomes a reality.
Auburn, who has faced and defeated five teams currently in the top 25, is looking to repeat history and take down the South Carolina Gamecocks for the second time this season.Â The Tigers will have Heisman Trophy candidate Cam Newton under center after he was ruled eligible by the NCAA earlier this week.Â Auburn is a week removed from an emotional, come-from-behind victory against archrival Alabama in Tuscaloosa and is riding high at 12-0 with only South Carolina standing in the way of an SEC Championship and a National Championship berth.
However, South Carolina is going to make Auburn work for that opportunity.
This isnâ€™t Steve Spurrierâ€™s first go-around in a situation like this.Â Spurrier led the Florida Gators to six SEC Championships between 1991 and 2000.Â He is a legend in the south and built this South Carolina program into one of the most dangerous teams in the country.
The only difference between this SEC Championship and his previous ones with Florida is that Spurrier finds his team in the uncommon role as the underdog.Â The general consensus seems to be that Auburn will win this game, so South Carolina can go out there and play with nothing to lose and see how the Tigers respond to that.Â Also, Spurrier will almost definitely throw in some kind of wrinkle to jumpstart his team, whether itâ€™s a trick play or going for it all early.
The Gamecocks also have the familiarity factor going for them.Â Remember, South Carolina led Auburn in the fourth quarter on the road before their quarterbacks imploded and gave away four turnovers in the final period.Â Spurrier has a lot of talent on this roster, including quarterback Stephen Garcia, freshman running back Marcus Lattimore and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.Â Jeffery killed Auburnâ€™s suspect secondary in their first matchup and the Tigers have had difficulty handling big receivers of Jefferyâ€™s stature all season long.
South Carolina is going to have to find a way to contain Cam Newton if they want to have a chance at winning, mostly because they wonâ€™t be able to shut him down completely.Â Newton hit the national radar with his first performance against the Gamecocks and heâ€™ll be looking for a repeat performance on the biggest stage of his career.
Itâ€™s hard to pick against Auburn when everything theyâ€™ve worked so hard for is on the line, but the SEC Championship takes precedence over everything else when the teams begin the season and Spurrier has said that on numerous occasions.Â The South Carolina Gamecocks are going to play some inspired football this afternoon and will give themselves an opportunity to shock the country.Â Still, Auburn has too much on the line and the Tigers have shown the poise and confidence of a champion all season long.Â Look for that poise and confidence to continue today.
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