Can Spurrier break the hex against Auburn?
While it's not a divisional game, South Carolina's contest at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia against Auburn on Saturday is huge for an undefeated squad with more than just SEC East title aspirations.
And it's big for head coach Steve Spurrier.
Since his arrival in Columbia in 2005, the Head Ball Coach has yet to beat the Tigers. In fact, no South Carolina team has beaten Auburn since arriving in the conference in 1992.
ICONSteve Spurrier has had a rough time against Auburn as of late.
Spurrier has beaten Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. But a victory over Auburn has yet to occur, despite the fact that Spurrier had a six-game winning streak against the Tigers when he was roaming the sideline in Gainesville. But he’s lost five straight in this series, including a 48-7 pounding in 2005 and twice last season.
At Jordan-Hare Stadium during the 2010 regular season, the Gamecocks fell 35-27 in a game they let slip away, and they were also thrashed 56-17 in the SEC Championship in Atlanta.
While Auburn hasn't exactly played like the defending national champions because of so much roster defection, the Tigers still pose a serious threat to the Gamecocks -- especially because Spurrier's squad has issues at quarterback once again.
Stephen Garcia has tossed just three touchdown passes against seven interceptions, including four last week in the win over Vanderbilt. It seems that the fifth-year senior is trying to force the ball to stud receiver Alshon Jeffery, who has caught just 14 passes and one touchdown on the season. And opponents know he's looking for his big receiver often.
While it's exciting for Gamecock fans to have such a productive ground game after years of inconsistency, how much can South Carolina lean on Marcus Lattimore, who has rushed for 611 yards and eight touchdowns, and expect to win week in and week out? While I'm convinced that Lattimore won't tire, one-dimensional offenses hardly are suited to win national titles or big SEC contests.
Meanwhile, defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson knows how difficult it was to contain the high-powered Auburn offense last season. Though some of the faces have changed, Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn remains the one constant. And Johnson's unit allowed 79 points its first two games before getting past Navy and holding Vanderbilt to just five first downs and 77 yards of total offense last week. Certainly the Commodores aren't known for their productive offenses, but the Gamecocks will need all the momentum they can get as they head into Saturday's game.
It's a big week for Garcia, the defense and, most importantly, Spurrier. Can the Gamecocks notch that elusive win over the only opponent in the SEC it has never defeated?
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