In its quest to get into the
College Football Playoff, No. 6 Auburn has no room for error after a
loss to Mississippi State in its last game, needing to run the table to get into the four-team field. So the Tigers
must take every opponent seriously, starting with visiting South Carolina on Saturday, despite a trip to Mississippi looming just a week away.
The Gamecocks snapped a two-game losing streak with a rout of Furman
last week, but coach Steve Spurrier's squad needs a lot of
improvement to challenge Auburn.
Quarterback Nick Marshall is the key to
the Tigers' offense, having passed for at least two touchdowns in his
last four games and rushed for at least 100 yards in his last three.
The Gamecocks look to their signal-caller, Dylan Thompson, for
production through the air, and he has delivered, with 1,839 yards and
15 touchdowns this season. He'll have his work cut out for him
against the Tigers' defense, though, which is allowing 213 passing
yards a game this season.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network.
LINE: Auburn -17.5.
ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA (4-3, 2-3
SEC): The Gamecocks' defense has had its moments this year, but it also has struggled at times, allowing 52 in the opener against Texas A&M
and 45 in a loss to Kentucky in its last SEC outing. For linebacker Marcquis
Roberts, the answer is just finding more effort and enthusiasm from a
defensive unit that is still learning to play together. “It doesn't
seem like we have the same enthusiasm as we used to have, but we are
trying to get there,” Roberts told The State. “A lot of players
that used to be here that used to bring that (are gone), so we are
trying to find that person or that group of people.”
ABOUT AUBURN (5-1, 2-1): During
their bye week, the Tigers worked to try to rediscover the rushing
offense that picked up 6.7 yards per carry on first down last year.
This year, Auburn is averaging 5.5 yards on first down, a stat that
coach Gus Malzahn is hoping to improve upon the rest of the season.
“When something bad happens, it's never just one thing,” Malzahn
told AL.com. “If we can get our linemen in the same spot and stay
healthy for the second half and really start working together and get
some cohesion, there's no doubt in my mind that we'll be more
effective and more efficient in the running game.”
1. South Carolina TE Rory
Anderson, the Gamecocks' third-leading receiver with 18 catches for
204 yards, is out for at least two weeks with a tear in his left
2. Auburn S Jermaine Whitehead
has been reinstated to the team by Malzahn after being suspended
indefinitely and missing four games for being disrespectful to a
3. The Tigers have dominated the
series, going 9-1-1 against the Gamecocks, including 3-0 in games
played at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
PREDICTION: Auburn 42, South