(12-0, 8-4 ATS)
South Carolina Gamecocks
(9-3, 7-5 ATS)
The SEC Championship Game should be a very, very interesting one on Saturday afternoon at the Georgia Dome. The South Carolina Gamecocks will take be in their first conference title game with the stakes very, very high, as the Auburn Tigers are just one win away from playing for the BCS Championship.
Auburn is in great shape this year, as it knows that it is probably going to the BCS regardless of what happens in this one, but obviously, with as poorly as the QB Cam Newton scenario has played out, the Tigers don’t want to leave anything to doubt. No one can leave them out of the BCS Championship Game with another win in this one, and you can bet that HC Gene Chizik is willing to do whatever it takes to come away with the big time victory. Obviously, Newton is probably playing for the Heisman Trophy as well, though he probably has the award wrapped up already. Newton has rushed for 1,336 yards and thrown for 2,254 yards with 19 rushing scores and 24 passing TDs. He was the catalyst for the comeback from down 24-0 against the Alabama Crimson Tide last week in Tuscaloosa, and if he didn’t have the Heisman Trophy Award won before that, he certainly should after that as long as he doesn’t blow it with a horrifying game on Saturday. Newton and the Tigers rushed for 330 yards on the Gamecocks when these two teams met at Jordan Hare Stadium, and obviously, a performance like that on Saturday will send them to the BCS Championship Game.
The Gamecocks have been rolling, and they are deservedly playing in the SEC Championship Game for the first time in team history. They’ve won three in a row both SU and ATS and are ready to rock and roll to get some revenge against Auburn after that loss in September. WR Alshon Jeffrey is one of the best in the nation, as he already has 1,351 yards and was unstoppable in the ‘L’ at Jordan Hare Stadium. However, if QB Stephen Garcia hadn’t gotten hurt that day, perhaps things would have been significantly different Garcia threw two TDs and no picks that day, but his backup came in and was INT’d twice to cost the Cocks the game. RB Marcus Lattimore has been on fire as well since that game against the Tigers. Lattimore was kept in check then, but the frosh has really come on strong and is one of the only first year men in the country to have exceeded the 1,000 yard rushing mark on the campaign. The difference for SC is going to be its defense, which amazingly stayed under 100 yards per game allowed on the ground this year even after getting crippled by the Auburn offense.
South Carolina had Auburn dead to rights on the road earlier this year, and the Tigers got away. Two and a half months later, it’s time for payback. The Tigers have shown their weaknesses, and they know that they are not safe in this one. The Gamecocks can stuff up the running game, and if that happens and everyone else stays healthy, they have the ability to win this game outright. That’s exactly what we expect to see happen on Saturday.
SEC Championship Game Free Pick: South Carolina Gamecocks +5.5