#12 USC (3-0, 1-0) vs. 17th ranked Auburn (3-0, 1-0)
Kickoff: 7:45 EST @ Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451) Auburn, Alabama
Line: Auburn -3
- USC has not won a road SEC game since October 11th 2008 at Kentucky. Quarterback Stephen Garcia was a redshirt freshman and came off the bench to lead the Gamecocks to the win.
- This is the first meeting between USC and Auburn when both schools were nationally ranked
- USC has not allowed a first half touchdown this season. The defense has only allowed two scores (the offense gave up a pick-six against Furman).
- USC has not beat Auburn since it joined the SEC in 1992 (0-4).
- Auburn is 21-4 in home night games since 2000, including a 4-1 record against ranked teams.
USC keys to victory:
It seems logical that Auburn is going to do its best to take away USC’s running game and force Carolina to throw the football. There will be opportunities to exploit the Tigers secondary IF the Gamecocks offensive line can pass protect and Garcia can make his reads and make his throws. Garcia’s problems occur when he rushes his throws (off his back foot), scrambles and forgets to protect the football, and forces passes that are intercepted. If the Gamecocks turn the ball over more than once it is going to be hard for them to win.
Confuse Cam Newton
Cam Newton is a 6-6, 250 pound wrecking machine at quarterback. The Gamecocks need to force him to use his arm more than his feet. He has a rocket arm, but he has made some shaky decisions with the pass, especially when he is under pressure. The key is to keep pressure on Newton without allowing him to escape for a long scramble. The Gamecocks need to force him into some bad decisions with pressure. He is a good enough passer to find open receivers if he has time. The Gamecocks have to get some heat on him.
We all know it has been an emotional week for USC. What kind of impact, good or bad, the slew of tragedies the team is coping with remains to be seen. This is also the first road game of the season and Jordan-Hare Stadium is one of the toughest venues in the country to win a road game. The Gamecocks will have to stay focused and not let the off the tragedies or the hostile crowd cause unforced and mental mistakes. It will be important to get off to a good start and not fall behind by more than a score or two early.
USC in a close one, 24-21.