Preview: SEC Championship - Auburn vs. South Carolina
Courtesy of the SEC
WHERE: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga.
WHEN: Saturday, December 4, 4:00pm
RECORDS and RANKINGS:
Auburn is 12-0, 8-0 SEC. The West Division champions are No. 1 in the BCS Standings, No. 2 in the BCS component Coaches' and Harris Polls, No. 5 in the CCR Top 120.
South Carolina is 9-3, 5-3 SEC. The East Division champions are No. 19 in the BCS Standings, No. 16 in the Coaches' Poll, No. 17 in the Harris Poll, No. 20 in the CCR Top 120.
Auburn opened as a 7-point favorite. The COngrove Computer Rankings favor the Tigers by less than 1 point (0.91).
Gene Chizik is in his second season at Auburn with a record of 20-5 (.800) and in his fourth season overall with a record of 25-24 (.510). The Tigers’ offensive coordinator is Gus Malzahn and the defensive coordinator is Ted Roof. This is Chizik’s first appearance as a head coach in the SEC Championship Game.
Steve Spurrier is in his sixth season at South Carolina with a record of 44-31 (.587) and in his 21st season as a college head coach with a record of 186-71-2 (.722). Spurrier serves as the Gamecocks’ offensive coordinator and the defensive coordinator is Lorenzo Ward. Spurrier is 5-2 in previous SEC Championship Games, all as head coach at Florida.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN AUBURN HAS THE BALL:
Auburn QB Cam Newton leads the SEC and ranks 11th nationally (second among quarterbacks) in rushing (111.33). He is the only player in the country with five 170-yard rushing games this season. Newton is the first player in SEC history and one of nine different FBS players ever to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a single season. Michael Dyer has rushed for 886 yards and broke Bo Jackson’s Auburn freshman rushing record of 829 yards. Onterio McCalebb is averaging 8.52 yards per carry, which is second highest among the nation’s rushers ranked in the top 100 in the country.
South Carolina leads the SEC, and are tied for third in the nation, with a school-record 39 sacks (3.25 per game). DE Melvin Ingram leads the way with 8.0 sacks on the season, ranking him third in the SEC; DE Devin Taylor has 7.5 sacks to rank fourth. Carolina has scored six defensive touchdowns this season (five interceptions, one fumble), the most since joining the SEC prior to the 1992 season. LB Antonio Allen returned an "oskie" (interception) for a touchdown against Clemson, his first interception of the season. CB Stephon Gilmore led the Gamecocks with seven tackles against Clemson.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN SOUTH CAROLINA HAS THE BALL:
South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore holds the school record for single-season touchdowns scored with 19. He needs just one more score to tie Tennessee’s Reggie Cobb (1987) for the SEC freshman scoring record. Alshon Jeffery broke the school record for single-season receiving yards with 1,351 this season. Against Clemson, Jeffery had five grabs for 141 yards and a TD. Jeffery leads the SEC and is fifth in the nation in receiving yards per game with 112.58 yards per contest. Stephen Garcia is the third quarterback in school history to top 6,000 career passing yards. Lattimore has 1,114 rushing yards this season, giving the Gamecocks a 1,000-yard rusher and a 1,000-yard receiver in the same season for the first time in school history.
Auburn DT Nick Fairley leads the SEC, and is tied for fifth nationally, in tackles for loss with 20.0. He is second in the league in sacks with 9.5. He has had at least four games with at least 2.5 tackles for loss this season. Against Alabama, Fairley had two sacks and forced and recovered a fumble on the play, earning SEC Co-Defensive Lineman of the Week honors. Josh Bynes led Auburn in tackles last season with 104, and is leading again this season with 68 tackles, including 5.5 tackles for loss. He has also recorded three interceptions, giving him seven for his career. Neiko Thorpe had a game-high 12 tackles against Alabama and has 58 stops this season and eight pass deflections.
Auburn - Demond Washington ranks sixth in the SEC averaging 25.2 yards per kickoff return, and has set an Auburn single-season record for kickoff return yardage with 983, including a 95- yard TD at Ole Miss. Onterio McCalebb returned a kickoff 99 yards against Arkansas, and freshman Demetruce McNeal has a team-high 14 tackles on special teams. Wes Byrum has made 30 of his last 35 field goal attempts after hitting just 11-of-19 in 2008.
South Carolina - Spencer Lanning has punted 49 times for an average of 43.8 yards per punt, ranking him fifth in the SEC in punting average. He is also 15-for-20 on field goal attempts on the season, including a long of 51 yards. Lanning has also made ten of his last 11 field goal tries. Against Clemson, he averaged 42.7 yards on seven punts and hit 3-of-4 field goals, earning SEC Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
Auburn leads the series, 7-1-1. The teams met earlier this year (Sept. 25 at Auburn), with the Tigers claiming a 35-27 win. The teams first met on Nov. 27, 1930 in Columbus, Ga., with Auburn winning, 25-7. Here is a listing of the nine meetings in the series: Nov. 27, 1930 at Columbus, Ga. (Auburn, 25-7); Nov. 26, 1931 at Montgomery, Ala. (Auburn, 13-6); Dec. 3, 1932 at Birmingham, Ala. (Tied, 20-20); Dec. 2, 1933 at Birmingham, Ala. (South Carolina, 16-14); Oct. 5, 1996 at Auburn (Auburn, 28-24); Oct. 4, 1997 at Columbia (Auburn, 23-6); Oct. 1, 2005 at Auburn (Auburn, 48-7); Sept. 28, 2006 at Columbia (Auburn, 24-17); Sept. 25, 2010 at Auburn (Auburn, 35-27).
Auburn defeated South Carolina, 35-27, on Sept. 25, 2010 at Auburn. The game was the fourth of the season for both teams. With the win, Auburn improved to 4-0 while South Carolina fell to 3-1. Cam Newton led Auburn with 176 rushing yards on 25 carries and three touchdowns while also completing 16-of-21 passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns. On defense, Auburn DT Mike Blanc added seven tackles, a fumble recovery and a pass deflection. The Tigers held Carolina to just 79 yards rushing. Gamecock WR Alshon Jeffery caught eight passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns. Carolina raced out to a 20-7 first-half lead before Newton scored his second rushing TD of the game on a 3-yard run just before half to close the halftime gap to 20-14. Auburn went ahead for good, 28-27, early in the fourth quarter on a 7-yard TD pass from Newton to TE Philip Lutzenkirchen. Newton connected again with Emory Blake on a 12-yard TD pass midway through the quarter to make the final margin, 35-27.