2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 5 - Auburn at South Carolina
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Oct. 1 Auburn 16 … at South Carolina 13
CFN Analysis: The Tigers might not be getting enough production out of the passing game, and the defense might be having problems, but they’re 4-1 and 2-0 in the SEC with a strong road win under their belts. Now it’s time to go from slogging through an ugly game at South Carolina to getting ready for a shootout against Arkansas. Fortunately, the Hogs aren’t rolling on the ground and need to bomb away to get the offense moving, giving the mediocre Auburn run defense a bit of a break. Michael Dyer carried the team with 141 yards and a touchdown on 41 carries, while punter Steven Clark had an unsung day pinning the Gamecock offense deep five times inside the 20. The Tigers held onto the ball for almost 36 minutes. The more they can keep the defense off the field, the better.
South Carolina did everything it could possibly do to give Auburn the game. Granted, Michael Dyer and the Tiger ground attack had a lot to do with the win, but with four turnovers, a horrible game from Stephen Garcia, and only giving Marcus Lattimore the ball 17 times, this wasn’t a good game in any way for the coaching staff or the team. Melvin Ingram was tremendous with 11 tackles, 3.5 sacks, a pick, and four tackles for loss in a dominant effort, but his offense couldn’t do its part. Fortunately for USC, the rest of the East is in trouble and it already has a win over Georgia. The division title is still there for the taking if the terrific team finally plays up to its talent on a consistent basis. Getting more out Garcia is a start.
(AP) COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Barrett Trotter threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Phillip Lutzenkirchen with 1:38 left to lift Auburn to a 16-13 victory over No. 10 South Carolina on Saturday.
The Tigers (4-1, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) had struggled to move the ball against South Carolina's defense. Trotter had thrown two interceptions and was sacked four times by the Gamecocks (4-1, 2-1). But down 13-9, Barrett led Auburn on a 12-play, 57-yard drive that ended with a pass to wide open Lutzenkirchen in front of the goal line.
The junior fumbled the ball into the end zone, then recovered it just before sliding out of bounds to put Auburn ahead.
South Carolina advanced to Auburn's 29 on its final possession before time expired, though Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier argued that clock should have stopped with 1 second left after a completed pass for a first down.
Michael Dyer ran for 141 yards on a career-high 41 carries and had a 1-yard TD for Auburn, which has won its past 11 SEC games.
It looked like South Carolina's defense would be enough to bail it out of trouble as quarterback Stephen Garcia again had problems putting up points against an Auburn defense that was ranked dead last in the SEC.
Instead, the Tigers D rose and held the Gamecocks to 54 yards and one first down in the final period. And Trotter and the Tigers found their groove just in time. They converted four third downs in the go-ahead drive, including the touchdown to Lutzenkirchen.
Auburn also did a good job on Marcus Lattimore, who came in as the SEC's leading rusher. He finished with 69 yards on 17 carriers. Still, when Lattimore broke through for a 15-yard TD run midway through the third quarter, it appeared it might hold up the way South Carolina's defense was playing.
Melvin Ingram had 3 1/2 sacks and one of four South Carolina interceptions.
Trotter was 12 of 23 for 112 yards with two interceptions.
This one looked like a contest of who'd crack first: Auburn's last-in-the-SEC defense or South Carolina's can't-move-the-ball-too-well offensive attack that has struggled to score the past two weeks.
In the first half, it was the Tigers' D that came up bigger than it had this season. They held Lattimore to 36 yards on nine carries and the Gamecocks managed only four first downs on nine first-half possessions.
Garcia, a lightning rod for Gamecock criticism for his inconsistency, was at it again early on. An interception by Demetruce McNeal -- Garcia's eighth of the season -- ended one promising drive. When Garcia was short on a sideline play to Nick Jones, Spurrier stomped around in frustration.
Usually, it's Lattimore who bails the Gamecocks out but even he didn't look like himself. He fumbled on one drive and could not fight his way through Auburn's charged up defense.
Not that the Tigers had much success with South Carolina's defense, led by Ingram and safety Antonio Allen. Ingram had two of the Gamecocks three first-half sacks and picked off Auburn's chance to extend a 9-6 lead right before halftime.
The Tigers' reliable kicker Cody Parkey was lined up for a 32-yard field goal try with 1:06 left when holder Ryan White took the snap, rolled right and threw toward Lutzenkirchen near the goal line. But defensive end Ingram had dropped back in coverage to end the threat.
Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina's all-SEC receiver, had the one offensive bright spot the first 30 minutes with a 50-yard touchdown catch as he outmuscled defender T'Sharvan Bell for the ball. But that was just Jeffery's second TD grab of the year.
Dyer answered with his touchdown run to put Auburn up 9-6.
Auburn (3-1) at South Carolina (4-0) Oct. 1, 3:30, CBS
Here’s The Deal … Is South Carolina this year’s Auburn?
The Gamecocks have the talent, the athleticism, and the star power to rise up and be this year’s SEC powerhouse that gets to play for the whole ball of wax if, and it’s a huge if, it gets its head screwed on straight at quarterback and gets even more out of its athletic defense. However, USC has a lot of the same problems it had last year when it lost late to Auburn.
The Gamecocks had the Tigers in trouble. Cam Newton wasn’t quite Cam Newton yet and South Carolina was playing well up 27-21 going into the fourth quarter. Stephen Garcia was terrific, throwing for 235 yards and three touchdowns, but he lost two fumbles, Steve Spurrier put in Connor Shaw, Newton threw two touchdown passes, Shaw threw two interceptions, and Auburn survived and went on to win the whole ball of wax.
This year, Garcia is still struggling and Shaw is lurking, but USC is 4-0 with the look of a team that’s going to do just enough needed to get the win. If the Gamecocks are facing Navy, they wake up just in time to get the win. If they’re playing Vandy, they keep the mistakes to a minimum and dial up the defense. If they’re dealing with Georgia, the run Marcus Lattimore and dial up the defense at just the right time to get the win. The team is good enough to play up to the task, and just flaky enough to struggle when the spotlight isn’t on. Missing LSU and Alabama, this is one of USC’s big games against the West, and it has to show it’s ready to really and truly be a player on the big stage.
Auburn might not be anywhere near as strong as it was last year, but it’s extremely entertaining with a fun offense that plays well when it has to, and a defense that can’t stop anyone but Florida Atlantic. This is a rebuilding year for a very young but very talented team, and while it might be just good enough to beat anyone on the right day, it’s in trouble schedule-wise with at Arkansas, Florida, and at LSU up next and with a trip to Georgia and a date with Alabama down the road. Beating South Carolina would be a huge step in the reloading process and would prove that there really might be life after Cam, Nick, and all the stars who made last year so special.
Why Auburn Might Win: South Carolina’s passing game is a bit of a mess. It has a wide receiver in Alshon Jeffery who’d be a starter on any NFL team right now, but he can’t get the ball. Stephen Garcia has thrown seven picks and just three touchdown passes, and Connor Shaw hasn’t shown a thing when given the chance. Auburn’s secondary can’t stop anyone, but that’s okay since Garcia can’t seem to find a groove.
Auburn’s attack is inconsistent and isn’t getting enough from a running game that needs to be averaging over 200 yards a game with the talent it has in the backfield, but South Carolina’s run defense has been shockingly soft. The Gamecocks have all-world athleticism on the line and rock solid veterans in the linebacking corps, but that didn’t matter much against Georgia or Navy. The Gamecocks held Vandy to four yards on the ground, but that’s partly because there wasn’t any fear of a passing game. Auburn has just enough wide receiver talent to stretch the field a bit.
Why South Carolina Might Win: Marcus Lattimore should be able to tear off five or more yards per crack every time he touches the ball. Auburn’s run defense hasn’t shown up yet, starting with the problems with Utah State and continuing with everything and anything Mississippi State and Clemson wanted to do. The Tiger defensive tackles are struggling to hold firm against anyone who can provide a push and any guards with any athleticism.
South Carolina’s offensive front might not be a rock, but it’s doing a nice job in pass protection and it’s blasting away when needed. Lattimore had to work against Vanderbilt, but he already has 611 yards and eight scores so far and he has last year’s Auburn game as a motivating factor. Held to 33 yards and a score on 14 carries in the loss to the Tigers, it’s a bit of a mission to make up for the tough day.
Lattimore will be the focus of the offense, but if South Carolina was ever going to get Garcia going, this has to be the game. The Auburn defensive line hasn’t generated a lick of pressure so far and the secondary has struggled to come up with key stops. Clemson’s Sammy Watkins became a college football household name by coming up with ten catches for 155 yards and two scores, while Utah State, Mississippi State, and Florida Atlantic, who can’t throw the ball a lick, had few problems. Again, this will be Lattimore’s game, but …
What To Watch Out For: Jeffery should be fantastic. It’s not that he’s been awful; Garcia just isn’t getting him the ball. The Auburn game last year was his breakout performance with eight catches for 192 yards and two scores, but he only has 14 catches for 246 yards and one touchdown so far this year. It’s been too easy and too tempting to keep feeding Lattimore, but if South Carolina is going to take a big step forward and have any sort of a shot at the SEC title, and maybe more, it needs No. 1 to take over.
Auburn might not have been scintillating against a lousy Florida Atlantic team, but it was also resting a slew of key players. Corner Chris Davis and linebacker Jonathan Evans took the game off to rest up and get healthy, but the passing game took the biggest hit losing No. 2 receiver Trovon Reed to a shoulder injury while missing having tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen with a leg problem. Quarterback Barrett Trotter needs
all his weapons to keep up with what USC will bring, and while not having Reed hurts, Lutzenkirchen, who caught three passes for 22 yards with a key score in last year’s win, will be a key part of the midrange passing game.
What Will Happen: South Carolina will be South Carolina. It’ll be just mistake-prone enough and just off enough to let Auburn hang around, and then the offense will kick in. Lattimore will take over the game in the second half, but it’ll be Jeffery who’ll put it away with two big catches late.
CFN Prediction: South Carolina 38 … Auburn 31
Click For Latest Line From ATS: South Carolina
-10.5 O/U: 59.5
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