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Saturday, Dec. 04, 2010

Auburn football: Five reasons why South Carolina Gamecocks will win SEC championship game

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1. Second shot

South Carolina is the first team to get a second shot at Newton. Several South Carolina defenders have admitted they were surprised by how good Newton is. It’s a reaction that’s familiar to many teams around the SEC. South Carolina knows what to expect this time, and the Gamecocks’ defense is playing with more confidence than it has had since beating then-No. 1 Alabama on Oct. 9.

2. Pass defense

The Tigers have given up receiving games of 192 yards (Alshon Jeffery), 164 yards (Arkansas’ Greg Childs), 97 yards (Chattanooga’s Brian Sutherland), 164 yards (Georgia’s A.J. Green) and 199 yards (Alabama’s Julio Jones) this season. Auburn is last in the SEC and 106th in the nation in pass defense, allowing 255.2 yards per game through the air.

3. Been there, done that

Steve Spurrier has been here before. There aren’t many better game-day coaches than Spurrier, who has played in this game seven times. Chizik has been an assistant coach on two teams that finished the season undefeated (2004 Auburn, 2005 Texas), but he doesn’t have anywhere near the experience to draw from as Spurrier.

4. Lattimore factor

Lattimore should do more this time. Lattimore had only 33 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries the last time these teams faced. It’s the fewest yards he has had in a game he has finished this season. If Lattimore can give South Carolina his more typical performance, it’ll open up even more in the passing game.

5. Auburn’s luck runs out

Auburn has been playing with fire. The Tigers have trailed Clemson by 17, South Carolina by 13, Georgia by 14 and Alabama by 24 before rallying to win games this season. That’s a dangerous formula. Auburn’s defense has been a particularly slow starter. If the Gamecocks do take an early lead, they can’t look back.

-- Josh Kendall

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