Human nature would tell you that South Carolina has a psychological advantage getting a second chance against a team it lost to and wanting to have a chance to redeem themselves. At the same time you know that Auburn has tremendous incentive to win on Saturday because a victory in Atlanta will keep alive the dream of going to the national championship game.
Which one of those factors is going to be the stronger from the emotional standpoint will play a major role like it always does in big games. A lot of times you get into games when both teams are at emotional and physical peaks and those are the classics. That is what I expect this one to be on Saturday.
I think South Carolina could be the best team Auburn has played this year with the possible exception of Arkansas, which is playing really well now. South Carolina certainly wasn't better than the Razorbacks the day those two teams played, but if you look at the Alabama-South Carolina game they handled Alabama a lot easier than Auburn did. Maybe Alabama wasn't quite as ready to play on the road against the Gamecocks as it was at home against Auburn.
For this year's SEC Championship you have an old coach (Steve Spurrier) who has been there before even though his South Carolina program never has. For Auburn you have a young head coach who is in the championship game for the first time as a head coach, but he has been in championship games as an assistant at Auburn and Texas. Gene Choiak knows and understands what he wants to do and he will have a plan. I don't really see either side having a big advantage as far as the coaching is concerned.
I expect an intense, hard-hitting Southeastern Conference football game at the Georgia Dome on Saturday. Neither team has great players at every position, but both teams have great players on both sides of the football, guys who are playmakers. Those playmakers are surrounded by kids who are playing to their potential and that is what you get when a team's chemistry is right. All of them are on the same page fighting and scratching to try to win a championship, which is a beautiful thing to watch from a coach's perspective.
It is easy to see that team chemistry has been a major part of Auburn's success this year. That is one of the reasons they have been such a fun team to watch.
I am expecting a great SEC Championship Game on Saturday. College football fans across the country will be watching and I am excited about seeing what happens.
Editor's Note: This part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for Autogiros.coma about the game he played and coached. An All-American at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn who was also head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming, Dye participates in the Legends Poll, a Top 25 rating of the best teams in college football as determined by a panel of all-star former head coaches. Dye writes three columns a week--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.
(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to PatDye@autigers.coma.)