The Auburn Tigers take on the South Carolina Gamecocks for the second time this season. This time for the SEC Championship. Auburn looks to keep their perfect record, while the Gamecocks seek revenge.

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Auburn used one of the most dramatic come from behind victories in Southeast Conference History when the overcame a 24 point second quarter deficit at Alabama to secure the No.1 rank in the BCS standings. They defeated Alabama 27-24 and Auburn quarterback Cam Newton not only led his team to victory, but sealed the deal as the winner of the Heisman Trophy. Obviously, there are far greater goals for him to achieve with his teammates.

This is also a rematch of a game played at Auburn on September 25 with the then-No.17 Auburn Tigers defeating then-No.12 South Carolina Gamecocks 35-28 and were installed as three point favorites. South Carolina led 20-7 in that game, and that fact alone is embedded in the souls of the Gamecock players. Still, legendary head coach Steve Spurrier will use that game as an inspirational and educational device that will be a large part being fully prepared for this rematch.

Looking at the final game stats, clearly Auburn dominated the game and had significant advantages on both sides of the line of scrimmage. For example, Auburn had nine more first downs, had a 108 advantage in total offense, had a higher pass completion percentage, and held a 2:16 edge in time of possession. The most glaring spot in this game was that Auburn rushed for 334 yards to just 79 yards for South Carolina. Auburn’s offense is far better than it was at that first meeting and I just don’t see how the Gamecocks will be able to standup against the pounding Auburn ground attack that features multiple formations and plays. 

The Veer Option Offense

Auburn runs the inverted-veer option, which was originally designed for an elite power back complimented by extremely quick and elusive half backs. The premise that the power back pounds the middle grinding out yards between the tackles. The speed backs are then sued to attack the perimeter of the defense and this in turn loosens up the middle of the defense. Play action pass plays are optimal after the run has ben established.

In the case of Auburn, that power back is 6-5 250 pound quarterback in Cam Newton, and the elusive speed running back is Onterio McCalebb. In the first meeting against the South Carolina Gamecocks, the Auburn comeback was led by Newton and the other power running back Michael Dyer, who combined for 167 rushing yards in the second half. Now, there are three running weapons for the Gamecocks to defend against and the newest one is McCalebb, who is averaging an amazing 8.5 yards per carry. 

Gamecock Offense

One of the reasons that the Gamecocks blew that 20-7 lead was that head coach Spurrier is a pass first offensive mind and he simply was not committed enough to the run part of the game plan. In a passing dominant scheme, it does not take many three and outs to provide ample opportunity for an elite team to get back into the game. Sophomore running back Marcus Lattimore carried the ball just three times in that second half collapse so no doubt you will see the Gamecocks committed to the running game just enough so that Auburn has to respect it.

Containing Alshon Jeffery

The Gamecocks wide receiver Alshon Jeffery had a huge game in the first meeting hauling down eight passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns. He is an enormous and quite athletic wide receiver at 6-foot-4 and 233 pounds, and Auburn does not have any single coverage man to go up against him. Instead, they will bracket him and squeeze him inside to the middle of the field where there will be more traffic and crossing of defenders. Auburn does not have to use safety help to stop the Gamecock ground attack, so they are able to minimize Jeffery this time around.

The Technical Sides

Auburn has had a tremendous season and it is reflected in the fact that they are a perfect 8-0 ATS when facing strong teams that are outscoring opponents by 10+ points per game on the season over the last two seasons. South Carolina has also had a great season and have an opportunity to knock off the No.1 ranked team twice in the same season. However, they are an imperfect 0-9 ATS after having won six or seven out of their last eight games since 1992.

 For Gamecocks believers note that Auburn is just 7-18 ATS after allowing 100 or less rushing yards in 2 straight games since 1992. Spurrier is 15-5 ATS in road games after allowing 75 or less rushing yards last game in all games he has coached since 1992.