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The Greatest Show on Turf

Auburn quarterback Cam Newton is quickly establishing himself as one of the top quarterbacks in America.
Auburn quarterback Cam Newton is quickly establishing himself as one of the top quarterbacks in America.

Grab the kids, bust open that piggy bank and head to Jordan-Hare Stadium. To borrow a phrase from Barnum and Bailey, The Greatest Show on Earth is at Pat Dye Field for only 13 more home appearances. Tired of hearing all those old stories from family about Sidle, Frederickson, Sullivan and Beasley? Then head to the Plains and experience your own magic.

It goes by the name Cam Newton.

It's not easy coming up with words to describe what Auburn fans are witnessing at the quarterback position. Heading into week five of the college football season it's not Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram or the equally talented Trent Richardson leading the SEC in rushing. It's not Kentucky's Derrick Locke or super freshmen Michael Dyer or Marcus Lattimore. It's Newton, the kid who runs first and asks questions later.

Oh yeah, and he can sling it when needed. He also leads the conference in passing efficiency. Take that and smoke it Ryan Mallett. Where is this Auburn team today without Newton? I can tell you, it's 1-3 and going nowhere fast.

Instead, Auburn is smoldering hot and no longer flying below the national radar. It's quickly becoming a media darling and getting better with each passing week - no pun intended. Even the affable and somewhat lost former Notre Dame coach and ESPN analyst Lou Holtz has taken notice, saying Saturday night, "It's time Newton's name starts being mentioned with the Heisman contenders."

The junior college transfer ran for 176 yards, passed for 158 and accounted for five touchdowns for the second time in his first four games with Auburn. Last week against Clemson was masterful, Saturday against South Carolina was plain magical.

Surprisingly, Newton wasn't completely satisfied with Saturday.

"I think I could have played better," he said. "All the credit goes to the offensive line for stepping up to the challenge. The defense and the offensive line did what they were supposed to do and it showed statistically."

Even Gene Chizik, who's typically guarded in his praise, couldn't hold back after the game.

"You can just read Cam's numbers and they speak for themselves," Chizik said while Newton looked on. "He is a competitor. Cameron is a very humble guy who just comes to work every day. I think he is getting better as a quarterback and a team leader and a guy who can manage our offense every week.

"I am a little reluctant to say that because he is in here. I see him out of the corner of my eye, but the facts are the facts. Our team knows that I speak the truth whatever I think is right." 

Newton still hasn't convinced everyone, including those he's run through, over and around. In what must go down as the dumbest post-game quote of the college football season, South Carolina linebacker Shaq Wilson insisted Newton's not that hard to tackle.

"It's not hard at all," Wilson said. "He's a good athlete and all and he deserves what he gets, but it's not hard at all."

Somebody better check that boy for a concussion.

Lost in Newton's heroics is the fact that Auburn is state champs - of South Carolina. It's only fitting that in addition to the American flag decals worn on the backs of its helmets, that Auburn add the Palmetto flag next to it. If ever a championship was won, Auburn has done it the last two weeks.

Let's hope we all get a breather this Saturday when Louisiana-Monroe comes to collect its check.