Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Auburn - South Carolina Preview

For the fourth straight time this year, Auburn will go into a game against an undefeated team.

Ok. I admit that’s not saying much. Arkansas State hadn’t played anyone. Mississippi State had beaten only Memphis. Clemson had wins against two nobodies.

But South Carolina comes in 3-0 with an SEC win over UGA and a ranking higher than ours, at least in one poll. Auburn is ahead of USC in the other. And the pundits are taking notice.

A lot of discussion has revolved around Auburn’s failure to make a Tiger out of South Carolina’s true freshman RB, Lattimore. With Dyer and Lattimore in the backfield, people speculate that Auburn could have printed Championship t-shirts both two and three years from now.

That may be putting the cart before the horse, but there’s no doubt that each back provides his team an opportunity to win the game. A combined backfield with the two of them would have been devastating.

But to whom is the game more important? Though both teams can have good seasons, neither is expected to contend for the championship and definitely not the national title. However, what impact will it have on the divisional race?

This game will likely not decide the SEC East. There are many who feel that the SEC East champion will have at least three losses. Though Florida was expected to dominate, the general consensus was that the teams would beat other up. The West has seen years like that, when three losses still didn’t knock a team out, leaving head-to-head as the deciding factor over which school went. However, this year the West is different. The champion there will likely have one loss and many would be surprised at two. There is less room for error. There is more to lose.

In my preseason speculation, I said Auburn would drop this game. I still would not be surprised if they did. Marcus Lattimore has been excellent this season and will likely be so this weekend. The downside is that USC is one dimensional. If Auburn can stop Lattimore, than USC has little else to fall back on. However, if Spurrier schemes and run Lattimore as a feint, Auburn may bite and find themselves in the same hole that they did with Clemson.

Like last week, this game will not be pretty. I just hope it will be a win.

By the way, the undefeated opponent streak will not continue as ULM is 0-2, including a 34-20 loss to Arkansas State.

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