AUBURN, Ala. — Continuing his position from the latter part of the week, Auburn coach Gene Chizik would not comment on the ongoing Cam Newton situation.
“I’ll take questions today based on any question that has to do with Cameron and the game last night,” Chizik said. “Otherwise I have the same stance.”
Newton has been in the spotlight lately after reports surfaced that his father engaged in talks with Mississippi State about a possible pay-for-play plan during the quarterback’s recruitment last year.
Chizik didn’t go near the situation Sunday. When asked when the school decided it would be OK to play Cam in the game, Chizik said, “Like I said, I’ll take questions about him in the game,” stressing the word “in.”
He had no hesitation about answering questions pertaining to Newton’s performance, which continues to be Heisman Trophy worthy.
Newton had 299 combined rushing and passing yards and accounted for four touchdowns. Auburn converted 10 of 14 third downs in the game. All were accomplished by a Newton run.
“Let me tell you something: when the game’s on the line, he wants the ball in his hands,” Chizik said.
The Tigers have scored 59 touchdowns this year. Newton has had a hand in 39 of them.
“Whether it’s third-down conversions, what he means in the red zone, what he does in the red zone — he’s just a big part of our offense,”Chizik said.
Still No. 2
Auburn (11-0, 7-0 SEC) remained No. 2 behind Oregon in the latest BCS rankings, which were released Sunday night.
The Tigers trail the Ducks by .0066. Last week that gap was .0027.
TCU, Boise State and LSU round out the top five.
The gap between Auburn and TCU more than doubled, from .0352 last week to .0721 this week. The top two teams at the end of the regular season meet in the BCS championship game.
Auburn solidified its No. 2 ranking in all the major polls. The Tigers gained 10 first-place votes in the Associated Press poll, two in the USA Today coaches’ poll and 28 in the Harris Interactive poll. The latter two are used in the BCS rankings.
Time for a bye
After 11 straight weeks of action (15 if you count August practice), Auburn finally has its bye. But that doesn’t mean time off.
“This is Iron Bowl week, so we’re not going to have a whole lot of time to rest,” Chizik said.
Like last year, the Tigers’ bye week comes late in the season. It gives them 12 days to heal up and prepare for the Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 26.
“In terms of how many days you practice, how much time are you giving these guys to let their bodies heal up mentally and physically, I think there’s a line in there somewhere,” Chizik said.
“And we’re going to try to find that great balance. We’re going to make sure when we come back, we’ve really got the energy we need to go.”
Title game talk
Auburn hasn’t been in an SEC championship game since 2004. Its opponent, South Carolina, had an even longer wait.
The Gamecocks qualified for their first title game since its creation in 1992, winning at Florida 36-14 Saturday night to take the SEC East.
“They’re a great football team,” Chziik said. “And there’s no question last night they played really, really well. A lot of passion, a lot of intensity. You can tell they went into Gainesville to win that game.”
Auburn won the teams’ meeting this year at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Sept. 25, rallying from a 13-point first-half deficit to win 35-27.
The title game takes place Dec. 4 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Kickoff is 4 p.m.