The Dye-Gest: SEC West Vs. East Matchups

College Football Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye writes about this week's Southeastern Conference football inter-divisional matchups.

As Auburn prepares to go on the road for the second time this season to play South Carolina, I believe that is going to be a very, very interesting football game.

Whether or not Auburn can win in Columbia this Saturday, I don't know but I am looking forward to the game.

Despite its high ranking, South Carolina hasn't looked very good in producing its 4-0 record. South Carolina has managed to beat East Carolina, Georgia, Navy and Vandy, but probably isn't playing its best football right now.

The big thing the Gamecocks have going on offense is Marcus Lattimore. He is a great running back who has helped them pull through for victories in close games.

On defense the Gamecocks have some All-SEC caliber guys, but they have given up a lot of yards. However, that group of players is also finding ways to make big plays and that is another reason South Carolina has yet to lose.

It remains to be seen if Auburn's young football team can force South Carolina into making the mistakes the Gamecocks have been making against other teams. If that happens the Tigers, who are going into this game as a big underdog, will have a chance to pull off the upset.

Auburn has shown potential on offense this season, but needs to improve its consistency in moving the football while continuing to avoid making turnovers. Georgia gave the Gamecocks three touchdowns. If the Tigers pull off the upset, that will make things very interesting in the SEC East race.

Another game this Saturday that will have an impact on who will win the SEC East is in Gainesville where Alabama is a favorite to get a road victory over Florida. As well as Alabama is playing, this is still a very dangerous game for the Tide with it being at Florida Field against a Gator team that is playing well.

If I was a betting man, which I am not, I would have to pick Alabama in this game, but it is still a very dangerous weekend for the Tide. I also think the Auburn game is a dangerous one for South Carolina because I have a feeling the Gamecocks are going to get Auburn's best shot.

This week's SEC schedule features two other West vs. East contests. LSU shouldn't have any problem winning at home vs. Kentucky, but the other matchup could be more interesting. Georgia should be able to win at home against Mississippi State, but this one is a game Coach Mark Richt's team could lose if it doesn't play well.

From the Mailbag:

Coach Dye:

Thank you coach for your article and for being the voice of reason here when it comes to the team. It's easy for fans to see our guys in Auburn uniforms and think that we'll win games because we're Auburn. We have an expectation that these kids are going to instantly know what to do and how to play even though they were all on different high school teams last year and haven't learned how to be leaders yet. And I appreciate the comment about them needing to be "bigger, stronger, and more knowledgeable" to compete. We as fans don't always have reasonable expectations.

The coaches have a challenge in front of them, but despite the lack of size and experience we didn't give up (at Clemson) and we fought hard throughout. As you said, this is a bright spot for us. I hope our fan base can enjoy seeing the growth and not get caught up in having unreasonable expectations.

Thanks and War Eagle,

Russ Dillard
Huntsville, AL

From reading your letter it looks like you understand the challenges of playing so many players together at the same time. If you put a couple of young guys in surrounded by experienced players the results are generally better than playing young players next to young players.

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