CFN: South Carolina - Auburn Analysis
Auburn (4-0) at South Carolina (3-1) 7:30 PM EST ESPN Thursday September 28th
Why to Watch: If you're looking for the dangerous road trap game on the Auburn schedule, this is it. Of course, the season ending war at Alabama is nasty, but the other three games away from Jordan-Hare are this one, a date with Ole Miss in late October, and a 34-0 week two win over Mississippi State. That means several SEC teams are in the strange position of having to be fans of Steve Spurrier. The Gamecocks also shut out Mississippi State winning the season opener 15-0, but they also lost to Georgia making this a must win at the end of a four game homestand. Things ease up in a big way with road trips to Kentucky and Vanderbilt over the next two games, so an upset win would likely mean a 3-1 SEC start with Tennessee and Florida still ahead. If Auburn is a real national title contender, then it wins this in a walk. If South Carolina wants to be a player in the SEC race, it needs to come up with the nationally televised shocker.
Why Auburn Might Win: This should be a huge day for a rested Kenny Irons. The Tiger tailback sat out last week's win over Buffalo to get healthy for the meat of the SEC schedule, and he should be able to rumble at will on a USC run defense that gave up 198 yards to Georgia, 138 to an awful Florida Atlantic team, and 290 to D-IAA Wofford. On the other side of the ball, the defense has been unbelievable allowing just 24 points all year with 14 coming from a Washington State team that's averaging over 36 points per outing on everyone else and three to an LSU juggernaut that averaged 46 points per game in the three non-Auburn outings.
Why South Carolina Might Win: The main weapon South Carolina has to combat the Auburn running game should be sophomore punter Ryan Succop. USC leads the nation in punting with Succop a whopping 45.57 yards per kick and needs to keep the Tigers pinned deep as much as possible. The Gamecock back seven hasn't dealt with anyone who can consistently throw, but it's still been a rock so far against the pass. If USC can win the field position battle and make Auburn go on long marches, this should be closer than expected.
Who to Watch: It's the return of Irons to where he started his career as the Auburn star makes his first trip back to South Carolina. As a freshman, Irons was one of the rising playmakers in the Gamecock offense rushing for 201 yards, but he ended up transferring to Auburn after being relegated to a reserve role in Columbia behind Demetris Summers. The rest is history as Irons is now an All-America back with the potential to be taken in the first round of next year's draft, while suspension and injuries have killed the Gamecock running game over the last few years before Mike Davis and Cory Boyd started to get rolling. Irons ran for over 100 yards in all but two of his final ten games of last year. He ran for 88 yards in the bowl loss to Wisconsin, and he was held to a mere 27 yards by the Gamecocks, although he scored twice.
What Will Happen: South Carolina will have its moments early and will get the crowd involved, and then Kenny Irons will tear off a huge touchdown run to turn the momentum around. Auburn will run for 200 yards and will control the tempo from the second quarter on.
CFN Prediction: Auburn 23... South Carolina 10
Line: Auburn -14
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) ... 3.5
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