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Saturday’s Win In Columbia Changes Everything For Auburn

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Auburn's win at South Carolina won't be remembered as a classic. Few plays will show up on the season highlight reel. When you get right down to it, things were plain ugly most of the day. None of that matters.

What draws us to college football are the players - the people. For a team that had been largely forgotten by the college football world and questioned mightily by its fans, Saturday's win at Williams-Brice Stadium was a thing of beauty for the Auburn football team. There were enough storylines to make even the most jaded fan smile.

You have to start with running back Michael Dyer. Despite breaking Auburn's freshman rushing record last season and being named MVP of the BCS Championship Game, Dyer has played second fiddle to Carolina's Marcus Lattimore and Alabama's Trent Richardson all year.

His name was nowhere to be found among the preseason All-SEC teams. Heck, he didn't even start Auburn's opener against Utah State. Meanwhile, Lattimore has been the toast of the SEC - a Heisman winner in waiting.

For the third time in a little more than a year, Dyer left his talking for the playing field, besting Lattimore yet again. In playing through what Gene Chizik called, "horrendous pain," Dyer rushed for a career high 141 yards on 41 carries. When his days at Auburn are finished, he'll likely hold every school rushing record.

Can the college football world now acknowledge that Dyer is every bit as good or better than Lattimore and Richardson?

What about defensive coordinator Ted Roof?

Has there ever been a more maligned coordinator coming off a national title than Roof? Saturday's performance may have been his best since arriving at Auburn - and boy, that's saying a lot. His ridiculed bunch held Lattimore and Stephen Garcia to 2-of-10 on third down conversions. Talk about a turnaround.

There were rumblings all week from inside that Chizik had taken off his head coaching hat and worked almost exclusively on the defensive side of the ball. If so, here's to hoping he does it again this week.

There's obvious friction between Roof and Chizik; but it appears for now they've finally found a way to make it work. It likely will be the key to overachieving this season.

How big was the catch by backup receiver DeAngelo Benton? For a kid that arrived at Auburn with so much hope, his clutch catch on third-and-13 of the final drive was as big for him as it was for the team. With a receiving corp. that's thinning by the minute, Benton will only see his role expand heading to Fayetteville this weekend.

What do we make of quarterback Barrett Trotter? For those of you old enough to remember, he's starting to remind me of former Auburn quarterback Randy Campbell. Like Campbell, Trotter doesn't throw particularly well and he sure can't run, but he almost always finds a way to win.

Despite throwing an interception in the end zone late in the game, Trotter was seen on the sidelines afterwards calm and collected, acting as if he'd already forgotten what just happened. How many five-game starters can pull that off?

A few minutes later he would march Auburn down the field in the closing moments, hitting tight-end Phillip Lutzenkirchen for the winning touchdown - a feat he's now done three of his first five starts.

Things look a whole lot brighter for Auburn on this Monday than it did last week. They'll head to Arkansas as double-digit underdogs. They'll face one of the best passing attacks in America. But there is a ray of sunlight and hope on this first day of the week.

Back in August, if I had offered you a 4-1 record heading to Arkansas week, would you have taken it? Exactly. It hasn't been pretty so far, but it has been highly effective.

The biggest take away from the South Carolina win is that now this young team knows how to win on the road. And the best part is that they're young enough and naive enough to expect to win.

A little bit of swagger returned Saturday night. It's something that should serve Auburn well going forward. Suddenly a team that was hoping for a bowl bid is now playing for much more.

Don't you love college football in October?