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South Carolina vs. Auburn
SEC Title Game
Betting Line: Auburn -6 o/u 61
It's not often that a team gets a shot of redemption, but that is exactly
what HC Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks will get when they try to
avenge a 35-27 loss earlier this year at the hands of the Auburn Tigers. Since
that game occurred the Gamecocks have gone 6-2 with a win over then #1 Alabama.
Meanwhile, Auburn has won 8 straight taking out Arkansas, LSU and Alabama in the
process. This SEC Title Game promises to be entertaining and breath taking. Will
South Carolina be like Muhammad Ali going to Zaire, or will Auburn score the
knockout punch that sends them to the BCS Title Game? Either way, this is a game
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The early line has Auburn has a 5.5 point favorite. They covered in the first meeting this year as a 3 point home favorite. The game hit the over of 48 with 62 total points scored. In recent history the Tigers have had the Gamecocks number, winning 5 straight meetings. This game will be played on neutral territory at the Georgia Dome.
If you didn't think Cameron Newton deserved the Heisman before last week, his latest performance has to have changed your mind. The junior and his team looked dead in the water as Alabama jumped out to a 21-0 lead in Tuscaloosa, but the Tigers rallied for a 28-27 victory. Newton, as usual, was the biggest reason for the win. He passed for 216 yards and 3 TDs. He added another TD on the ground. Cameron also helped his Tigers convert two very important 4th down attempts. The offense lives and dies with his production. The 250 pound QB got off to a slow start in the first meeting between these teams, but ended up with 158 passing yards, 2 TDs, 176 rushing yards, and 3 rushing TDs.
South Carolina's offense has three star players in RB Marcus Lattimore, QB Stephen Garcia and WR Alshon Jeffery. Lattimore was held to just 33 yards in the first game between these two SEC stalwarts. The freshman has picked up 1,114 yards and 17 TDs this year. There is no doubt that he is a better player now then he was then. He will likely use that first game as motivation too. WR Alshon Jeffery is a sophomore and one of the best wideouts in the entire nation. Look for him to play big. Stephen Garcia is never going to be a Ryan Mallet or Sam Bradford, but he played huge against Auburn this year by passing for 3 TDs and no INTs. This offense is very clearly better than they were the first time around.
The Auburn defense is very hot and cold. Some weeks they play great and some weeks they don't show up. It took getting punched in the face by giving up 21 points in the first quarter against Alabama for them to wake up. After that they allowed just 6 more points. Anyone that has watched them play all year long knows that they are a better second half team when it comes to playing defense. The offense is sometimes similar. The Tigers get stronger as the game gets longer.
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South Carolina is known for strong defense. They will need to play their heads off to stop Cameron Newton. They couldn't do it the first time, but they may fare better after having had a chance to play against him. In their last three games they have allowed 227, 266 and 260 total yards. They have 7 sacks in that span and have won the turnover war quite decisively by 2, 4 and 3, respectively. Stopping Newton will be priority #1.
There's been speculation all week on whether SC QB Garcia will play. All indications are that he will play. After all, it is the biggest game of his life. So, can the Gamecocks knock off the undefeated Tigers?
We mentioned last week that we felt Alabama was a better team that Auburn. We mentioned that we stayed away because of a little thing called destiny. Well, Alabama steam rolled Auburn in the first half. But destiny beat Alabama in the 2nd half. Destiny strikes a team or two every year in college football. Auburn certainly does seem destined to match up against Oregon in a wild shootout to decide this years National Champ.
On paper, this game handicaps as a play on South Carolina. The game figures as a pick em. Yards per point slightly favors South Carolina. Both teams have an offensive yards per point number of around 11. Which means South Carolina, believe it or not, as been just as effective as Auburn converting yards gained into points on the scoreboard. Defensively, South Carolina has been better.
South Carolina also has the Spurrier angle working for them. We talk about it every time we write up a South Carolina game. How Spurrier hasn't really accomplished anything at SC and how this may be his best chance. We have mentioned it all year, and shazam, here he is, in the SEC Title game with a chance to add to his legacy.
Finally, we have the first game, earlier in the year, to look at. South Carolina led into the 4th quarter. They gave the game away. 4 turnovers killed them. Even with QB Stepen Garcia benched late in the 4th quarter, the Gamecocks still had two opportunities late in the game, including an interception in the endzone in the closing seconds that would have sent the game into overtime. So, we know South Carolina can play with Auburn, and we know they'll be confident. Auburn really hasn't been a dominant undefeated team. They won plenty of close games, often times with great 2nd half performances.
We're going to go ahead and play this one by the numbers. The numbers say the margin here is much closer than the posted line. Right now the game is Auburn -6 at most sportsbooks. We may see it rise even further, so make sure you shop for the best number. We would likely play this game at anything better than +3. A first half play on SC might not be a bad idea either. For now, South Carolina +6