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Tigers Face South Carolina Again. (previewing the Auburn-South Carolina matchup.)

By on October 23rd, 2014 in football 2 Comments »
Carolina Week

Offensive wizards match wits once again.
(Photo by Acid Reign.)

     War Eagle, everybody! It’s Auburn gameweek again, and it’s time to get the 2nd half of the season kicked off! Frankly, it was an awful feeling last weekend. We were watching several SEC blowouts, and meanwhile our Tigers did not play. I think everyone’s been chafing since the loss at Starkville, and we need to see this team get back to action.

     This week’s opponent is South Carolina, a team that’s been mostly disappointing this season. The past five seasons have seen some curious scheduling from the SEC office. This will mark the fourth meeting between the Tigers and the Gamecocks in the past five seasons. Meanwhile, Auburn has played Missouri, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida just once each during that stretch.

     Lest one simply pencil in a win for the Tigers this week, I think one must look at the psychology of both teams. Auburn is coming off a disappointing loss but still has championship goals in front of the team. This is a must-win game if Auburn hopes to return to Atlanta to play for the SEC Title. Both Mississippi teams are still undefeated, and Alabama is just a single game back. LSU lurks with two SEC losses. Should Auburn sustain a second loss at this point, they’d be virtually eliminated. Alabama gets a crack at MSU and LSU, Ole Miss still has to play MSU and LSU, and MSU has Bama and Ole Miss left. Right now, I’d say that one or the other Mississippi team has a good shot at finishing either undefeated or with just a single loss. A two-loss Auburn team would be unable to catch the hot team from the Magnolia State.

     South Carolina comes into Auburn playing only for bowl position. The Gamecocks have been all but eliminated from the SEC East race, having suffered three SEC losses already, one of them to front-running Missouri. A win would help South Carolina secure a better bowl bid, and I think Steve Spurrier would really like to get his first win against Auburn wearing the garnet and black. The Gamecocks will feel little pressure coming into this game and can settle down and try to do what they do. All of the pressure will be on Auburn. One hugely helpful factor in the Tigers’ favor is that they’ll be playing at home in front of a raucous blue-clad fan base.

     Emotions aside, how do the teams stack up? As might be expected with 3 Gamecock losses, the stats mostly favor Auburn. South Carolina is giving up 181.7 rushing yards per game, and that’s including games against Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Furman. Last week, South Carolina gave up 211 rushing yards to Furman! Might this be the week Auburn’s running game really takes off?

     It’s not just run defense that has been worrisome for South Carolina. Opposing quarterbacks have completed 63 percent of their passes, for 7.1 yards per pass, 9 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions. All told, South Carolina has given up 421 yards per game on defense. The last 4 Gamecock opponents, Vandy, Missouri, Kentucky and Furman have scored 110 points. That’s 27.5 points per game given up, against a slate that isn’t exactly murderer’s row!

     Folks have been lamenting a lack of an Auburn pass rush this season. Auburn has just 12 sacks on the season and 43 quarterback hurries in 6 games. Contrast that to the Carolina defense, which has just 8 sacks and 19 quarterback hurries in 7 games. In close losses to Missouri and Kentucky, the key factor was that Tiger and Wildcat quarterbacks could stand in the pocket with impunity late in games and lead their teams down the field.

     Offensively, this Carolina team more closely resembles the scrappy late ‘aughts Spurrier teams rather than the high-octane Garcia/Lattimore/Jeffery/Shaw machine of recent years. Mike Davis is a capable running back, who is averaging 94.6 yards per game and 5.5 yards per carry. Pharoah Cooper and Nick Jones make for a decent receiving tandem. Quarterback Dylan Thompson has been serviceable throwing the ball, connecting on 61 percent of his passes for 7.7 yards per pass. He’s got 15 touchdown passes against 6 interceptions. Those are respectable numbers but not what you’d expect of a Spurrier-coached quarterback. Unlike recent South Carolina quarterbacks, Thompson has been no threat on the ground, totaling negative 19 rushing yards. The Auburn defense has been chasing mobile quarterbacks for much of the season, and I suspect they might relish a chance to rush a more stationary guy.

     Gamecock special teams have been mostly solid, but they have given up 2 kick returns for touchdowns this season. Depending upon wind conditions, we’ll likely see the Carolina kickoff specialists trying for touchbacks. Landon Ard has 17 touchbacks on 36 kickoffs, and Zack Cimaglia has 7 on 11 kickoffs. Veteran kicker Elliot Fry has been nearly automatic kicking field goals, hitting 12 of 13. Punter Tyler Hull is solid with a 42-yard average. Carolina return men haven’t been much of a threat, while Auburn has Corey Grant, Quan Bray and others who are a threat to take any kick to the house.

     In Auburn Saturday night, I expect to see a Tiger team looking to really tune up the offense. South Carolina will have a few plays on offense, but barring a total Auburn offensive collapse, they Gamecocks will be hard pressed to keep up. Like every other team Auburn has played, expect the Gamecocks to stack the line of scrimmage to stop the run game. Auburn will have to throw it some, and despite consternation from some Auburn factions, Auburn has had a lot of explosive plays doing that this season. Nick Marshall really has had only one glaring turnover this season, losing the ball on the Arkansas goal line after a long run. Marshall hasn’t lost a ball since then. On his 3 interceptions, 2 were batted at the line, and he was hit as he was throwing late against Mississippi State. Reportedly, Auburn has worked extensively the last two weeks on solutions to the batted passes.

     War Eagle, folks! The hay is in the barn on this game, as Pat Dye liked to say. This game will kick off at 6:30 PM, and it will be televised on the SEC Network. Tiger fans are encouraged to wear blue for this game and to make a lot of noise when South Carolina has the ball. We’ll have our usual open thread up Saturday morning here at trackemtigers.com, and as always feel free to drop in, enjoy and comment upon the day’s events. War Eagle, and let’s demolish those Gamecocks!

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Track ‘Em Tigers Pick ‘em Results for Week 8

By on October 22nd, 2014 in Football Comment »
College+Pickem+300x250+Creative

Our TET Pick 'Em list changed too as audude, AUinATX, and AuburnMisfit moved in to the Top 5; while last week's top five members Tigerstripe, novaaufan, and wareaglefan70 are still holding strong at N0. 6, 7, and 8 respectively. This week's action kicks off on Thursday night with two games including ...

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The Dirty Dozen – Week Eight

By on October 22nd, 2014 in Featured Article, Football 6 Comments »
Dirty12-8

The road ahead is a long one, six games in a row, three of them against top-ten rated teams who have more than enough reasons to hold a grudge against these Tigers after last year's games. Each of those three are rivals for both the SEC Championship game and the College Football Playoff slots. But I get the feeling this team and this coaching staff wouldn't have it any other way.

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Café Malzahn at Noon

By on October 21st, 2014 in Featured Article, Football 3 Comments »
Looking back A little more than halfway through the 2014 season is a good time for an introspective look back on what has happened over the last eight weeks. Auburn just had its last break before the final six games of the season, and the Southeastern Conference has begun to segregate into title contenders, spoilers, pretenders and also rans... Read Full Story

Jimbo Fisher Doesn’t Like Being Asked About His Reputation

By on October 20th, 2014 in Football 4 Comments »
... Read Full Story

Who You Got? Making Sense of the Greatest Season in SEC History

By on October 20th, 2014 in Football 13 Comments »
How do words do it justice? For the first time ever, a conference occupies four of the top five spots in the AP College Football Poll. The fact that all of the teams come from the SEC West is just well again, I have no words. No wonder Mike Slive is stepping down as SEC commissioner next summer. How do you top this?What makes th... Read Full Story

Four of AP Top 5 Teams Are From the SEC West

By on October 19th, 2014 in football, News 1 Comment »
12820996 Listen to national sports radio call-in shows, and you will hear a constant barrage of callers across the country berating the SEC – claiming the league doesn’t really play anyone other than each other. Well the AP Top 25 came out today, and four of the Top 5 are from the Southeastern Conference. Of course it's not true tha... Read Full Story

Midterm Report – (grading the Tigers).

By on October 18th, 2014 in Football 12 Comments »
Bye week improvements

Now, it's time to take a look at where this football team is, going forward. There is still a lot of football left to be played, and every game is important. Can Auburn gear up for another championship run in October and November?

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College Football TV Schedule for Saturday, 10-18-14

By on October 18th, 2014 in Football, News 12 Comments »
NCAA Football: Champs Sports Bowl-Notre Dame vs Florida State College football's headliner will take place in Tallahassee today when No. 5 Notre Dame takes on No. 2 Florida State at 7 p.m. CT. And once again FSU's time in the spotlight is marred by more off field issues with the 'Noles starting quarterback.It seems Jameis Winston can not stay out of the news. His latest foray into the head... Read Full Story

A Bump in the Road

By on October 17th, 2014 in Featured Article, Football 4 Comments »
NCAA Football: Auburn at Mississippi State Turnover after turnover, flag after flag, missed opportunity on top of missed opportunity -- the Malzahn-coached team we witnessed last Saturday was most certainly not the one we have grown to adore over the past year. Following the first defensive stand that forced the 'Dawgs to a three and out, I told my cousin, "That was easi... Read Full Story

We’ll Never See Another Mike Slive in Collegiate Athletics

By on October 15th, 2014 in Football, News 5 Comments »
NCAA Football: SEC Media Day Auburn's football team went 13-0, finished No. 2 in the nation, and had four 1st Round NFL Draft picks in 2004. Yet the Tigers were denied the chance to play for the national championship. Instead Oklahoma was pitted against USC, and the Sooners were promptly blown out 55-19 by the Trojans.Many thought Auburn would have been a b... Read Full Story

The Dirty Dozen – Week Seven

By on October 14th, 2014 in Featured Article, Football 4 Comments »
Dirty 7

The bloodletting has begun. The SEC West has started to play each other in earnest, and the teams currently at the top raise huge questions about the validity of nearly every preseason poll and pundit on the Internet, just like last year when they overlooked Auburn. The two Mississippi teams are now both bowl eligible and undefeated and looking stronger every week. Either this is an unexpected-once-in-a-lifetime occurrence (you know, just like last year), or perhaps those preseason polls and reports aren't worth the ether they're printed on?

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It’s Gut Check Time for Auburn

By on October 13th, 2014 in Football 15 Comments »
quan Will the real Auburn football team please stand up? Whether you lay blame on Auburn, the referees or rightfully give credit to Mississippi St., Saturday’s loss in Starkville raises serious questions moving forward.While the events of the weekend don’t signal the end of the road for this team, any hope of making the playoff s... Read Full Story

Week Seven TET Pick Em Results

By on October 13th, 2014 in Football Comment »
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Here’s the top 25 list for Track 'Em Tigers week seven Pick 'Em Contest ... JandOWarEagle continued his/her domination by winning the top spot for the fourth time this season.

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Tigers Bashed by the Bulldogs. (grading Auburn’s game vs. Miss State)

By on October 12th, 2014 in Football 9 Comments »
Louis fumble

Grading Auburn's disappointing 38-23 loss to Mississippi State. It was a matchup of heavyweight, Top 5 teams, but the Tigers failed to live up to that billing. Both teams uncharacteristically committed 4 turnovers. The difference in this game was ...

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Bomb the Bulldogs! (Auburn at Mississippi State game thread.)

By on October 11th, 2014 in Football 569 Comments »
MSU Thread Davis Wade Davis Wade Stadium on a gray day.Auburn vs. Mississippi State, Open Thread.(Photo by Acid Reign.)     War Eagle, everybody! It's gameday once again in October. This afternoon, the Auburn Tigers will take on the number three ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs in Starkville. This is the SEC game of the week, and it will be tele... Read Full Story

College Football TV Broadcast Schedule for Saturday Oct. 11, 2014

By on October 11th, 2014 in Football, News Comment »
PI-CFB-Auburn-Tigers-Mississippi-State-Bulldogs-Nick-Marshall-Dak-Prescott-030414 This week the Auburn Tigers’ game against Mississippi State is the CBS Game of the Week. The game features dueling Heisman quarterback contenders Nick Marshall (Auburn) and Dak Prescott ( Miss State).In a game of unbeatens, the No.3 Bulldogs host the No. 2 Tigers in a Top 5 showdown in Starkville. You can bet it will be a high... Read Full Story

The Dirty Dozen – Week Six

By on October 10th, 2014 in Football 2 Comments »
week6 The Dirty Dozen looks at the games that Auburn’s opponents play throughout the season, highlighting points of interest, tendencies and potential issues for their remaining season and their future game against Auburn.That guy. The linchpin to your offense, the key to every victory, the most deserving of every accolade ever give... Read Full Story

(Way Too Early) Playoff Predictions

By on October 10th, 2014 in Featured Article, Football 5 Comments »
taveze-calhoun-trovon-reed-ncaa-football-mississippi-state-auburn-850x560 THE HEAVYWEIGHTSAuburn:Vegas odds to win championship - 13/2I'll admit, I did not see last week coming -- I entered Jordan-Hare half-expecting a loss to our Louisiana foes for yet another year. There was a side of me that was fairly confident, and why shouldn't I have been? But in the back of my mind, I had known that the Gus ... Read Full Story

Substantial Stakes in Starkville. (preview of Auburn – Miss State )

By on October 9th, 2014 in Football 16 Comments »
MSU Week Big Game

With both Mississippi State and Auburn ranked in the top 5, folks are calling this the biggest game in Davis Wade Stadium history. There's no doubt the game will be a tough matchup on the road for Auburn, one of 5 difficult road games this season. Auburn has already survived Kansas State in Manhattan. After this Bulldog tilt, Auburn has ...

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The Prognostication Stipulation: (predicting college football winners for week 7)

By on October 8th, 2014 in Football 3 Comments »
1965-auburn-vs-mississippi-state-85-x-11-framed-historic-foo

The goal of this article is to provide a weekly snapshot of the key match ups in the top 25 with particular emphasis on future/past Auburn opponents and what it means in the Tiger’s quest to repeat as SEC Champions and a shot to win the first National Championship in the playoff era. While student athletes are working hard preparing for the game we are also journeying together, reveling in the moment of the season known as WEEK 7.

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