Auburn 49 ... Georgia 31
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Auburn won the SEC West and was dominant against Georgia. Now, back to the original program.
As a fan, I’d love to live in the protective cocoon of Jordan-Hare Stadium and simply be able to enjoy all the magnificence that is the Auburn running game, the explosiveness of the attack, and, of course, the play of Cam Newton, but I can’t. I’m not saying this is a lie, and I’m not convinced this is 2005 USC all over again, but what’s happening on the field is far less relevant and far less interesting than what’s happening off it.
Showing support and waving pom-poms doesn’t mask anything, but the Tiger fans (who want this settled more than anyone else) did their part
to have fun with it for the three hours of gametime, and Newton and the team did their part in using the tunnel vision needed
to come up with the huge win. Unfortunately, most of the sports
world (including CBS) couldn't do the same.
The worst thing that’s going to happen now is a two week layoff before Alabama. The Tigers, despite a tight start, are playing so well, and Newton was so flawless, that stopping now might kill the momentum while the distractions get magnified by the day. But as long as No. 2 is smiling, laughing, and fighting through the adversity, then the rest of the program will follow suit. Basically, Newton is making it hard not to want to see him get cleared,
and if he's struggling through this, he's doing a great job of hiding it.
Under the circumstances, this was Newton’s best performance of the year. With all the accusations and all the scrutiny and all the rumors and speculation, he was phenomenal and relentless as the Tigers kept scoring and kept producing and kept dominating. The criteria for the Heisman has a line about integrity, and while that all might still be a concern about that off the field, there’s no question about it once Newton gets in the game.
Now let’s see if the play stands.
If nothing else, Newton is proving to be one of the greatest players in SEC history. Whatever happens from here on, he’s putting up an undeniably historic season and he’s proving to be a legend
who deserves to win the Heisman by being the best player in college
football. Now, can we all separate what's happening on the field from
what's happening off of it?
Unfortunately, no one appears to be able to.
Well, so much for Auburn being distracted by the Cam Newton saga.
I’d been assured a few days ago by someone intimately close to the Tiger program that the kids were using the recent off-field drama to rally together. That sure seemed to be the case on Saturday. Regardless of what’s being written and alleged, it was the same Auburn team that had won the previous 10 games. Newton performed like the Heisman favorite, DT Nick Fairley abused opposing blockers and double-teams, and the offense had to overcome questionable play from the defense. Had you been in a bunker over the last couple of weeks, you’d have never known that this school was in the middle of an NCAA hornet’s nest. For that, the coaching staff, namely head coach Gene Chizik, deserves a ton of credit.
Listen, I have no idea how the NCAA investigation is going to wind up. I don’t like the sounds of the allegations, but the fan of the sport in me hopes that Auburn and the Newtons wind up being clean. What I do know is that I love the way No. 2 conducted himself on Saturday afternoon. He was bold, confident, and engaging with the home crowd. He brought an infectious attitude to Jordan-Hare Stadium that clearly resonated with his teammates and adoring public. If Newton is guilty, you sure can’t tell from his body language. The kid continues to carry himself like a winner, flush with a million-dollar smile and an unflappable desire to be the best. If he was going to crack under the pressure of being under the microscope for a multitude of different of reasons, it would have happened already.
By Matt Zemek
The Auburn Tigers converted 10 of 14 third downs in this game. On all 10 of those third-down situations, Auburn moved the sticks because Cameron Newton ran for a first down. Really – is there anything else you need to know about this game? As soon as Auburn decided that Newton should play, Georgia’s hopes of an upset evaporated. Yes, this game was tight through three quarters, but with Auburn playing at home and Georgia’s defense being just as unreliable as it was last year under a different coordinator (Willie Martinez and not Todd Grantham), it was hard to think the Bulldogs could keep up with the Tigers.
This game played out a lot like the Arkansas-Auburn game in particular, but it generally mirrored almost every other Tiger win this season (Mississippi State being one notable exception). Newton took over in the fourth quarter against a gassed defense that simply couldn’t pen him in or use a spy to make an open-field tackle. When you can run the ball without resistance, that will always trump the ability to pass the ball with considerable success but an occasional hiccup (as was the case for Georgia and Aaron Murray).
As soon as Newton was given the green light by Auburn, the Tigers’ SEC West championship became quite secure. Now LSU is locked out of all three title chases (division, league, nation) and one ticket has been punched for Atlanta on Dec. 4.