Auburn sure has spent a bunch of time playing teams from South Carolina recently. They played Clemson and South Carolina three times a piece between 2010 and 2012.
With another series against Clemson on the horizon, Auburn also drew the Gamecocks out of the Eastern Division on the SEC schedule this season.
in August, this looked like potentially Auburn's toughest game on the schedule. Now that half of the season has passed, it looks like an opportunity to regroup for this final daunting stretch run that Auburn will face.
Auburn has dominated the Gamecocks since they joined the SEC in 1992, winning all seven games. 1933 was the last year that South Carolina beat the Tigers, though that is a bit deceiving since they've only played 11 times.
It would be wise for Auburn to remain focused on this week, however. Spurrier and the Gamecocks have been a real disappointment, and this road trip to Auburn provides an opportunity to turn their season around and salvage a respectable record.
South Carolina still has Mike Davis and the potential for great balance with quarterback Dylan Thompson. In fact, they're only averaging 3.7 less points per game than Auburn.
The big difference in this matchup (at least on paper) is on the defensive side of the ball. Auburn's defense has quite frankly led the way for much of the season, while South Carolina's has constantly been their Achilles' heel.
The Gamecocks are last in defensive efficiency and really struggle against the pass. One would think this game will provide Gus Malzahn and the Auburn offense a chance to find rhythm and some consistency heading into a brutal stretch of games.
Both teams are rested - South Carolina had a bye week before playing Furman, in essence giving them three weeks to prepare for Auburn. The Tigers are coming off their final bye of the season, and should be ready to roll as well.
What will make the difference on Saturday night at Jordan Hare? Here's three keys the way I see it:
- Offensive Flow - I admit this isn't really a tangible thing. But the Mississippi State game had no flow to it from the very beginning. Due to the circumstances and the quick deficit, Auburn never really got into a rhythm, especially in the running game. I want to see tempo and success out of our base running packages, especially early in the game.
- Personnel/Scheme Adjustments - With six football games of film to watch, I assume Gus Malzahn and Ellis Johnson will have plenty of new looks and wrinkles to attack the second half of the season. That could mean slight changes in philosophy or players in new spots. The success of those changes obviously will have an impact in this game.
- Attitude - Will there be a hangover from the disappointing performance in Starkville? Or will this team embrace the fact that they remain in the top 5 and still have a great shot at the College Football Playoff if they take care of business? I hope to see Auburn loose and excited to be playing an SEC game at home. We must match South Carolina's intensity early, especially since we have so much more to play for.