Location: Auburn Alabama
Stadium: Jordan-Hare stadium, Capacity 87,451
Head Coach: Gene Chizik (record 11-5) 2nd year at Auburn
2010 Record: 3-0 (defeated Clemson 27-24 in OT last week)
2009 Record: 7-5 (3-5 in the SEC)
Famous Alumni: Walter Riggs (Father of Clemson Football), Bo Jackson (1985 Heisman trophy winner), Charles Barkley (loud mouth NBA player) Taylor Hicks (American Idol winner), Tim Hudson (current Atlanta Braves Pitcher)
USC Defense vs Auburn Offense: This is a match up of the top rushing offense in the SEC verses the top rushing defense in the SEC. The Tiger rushing attach is averaging 259 yards per game, and ran for 221 yards last weekend against a Clemson defense that is currently ranked 90 in the nation in rush defense. Carolina rush defense is giving up on average less then 60 yards a game and held Georgia to 61 rushing yards two weeks ago in Carolina's SEC opener. Auburn's offense is also ranked #1 nationally in pass efficiency, which could cause problems for the Gamecock secondary.
Players to watch out for on Auburn's offense: QB Cam Newton, Freshman RB Michael Dyer and WR Darvin Adams are Auburn's big play makers. Newton a transfer from Florida has been a beast so far this season racking up on average 103 yards on the ground per game, ranking him in the top 5 in the SEC in rushing. Last weekend against Clemson, Newton threw for 203 yards with 2 TD's and rushed for 68. Freshman running back Michael Dyer is touted as one of the top running backs in the nation out of high school last year and so far has had a decent freshman campaign. Dyer is currently averaging 70 yards on the ground per game, and ran for 69 yards last weekend against Clemson. Auburns top receiver this season has been Darvin Adams, the junior wide out has accounted for 214 yards on 10 receptions, and 2 touchdowns, including a 8 yard strike from Newton last weekend.
Match up to watch : USC's defensive ends vs. Cam Newton. Auburn has had some injuries at the tackle positions over the season with left tackle Lee Ziemba nursing a sore knee and right tackle A.J. Greene breaking his ankle last weekend in the Clemson game. This should help Matthews and Taylor get some pressure on Newton, who is a threat to run every time the ball is snapped. USC's #1 priority this weekend is to contain Newton in the backfield and force him to throw down field. If USC can't stop Newton, it could be a long game for the defense.
USC offense vs. Auburn Defense: The Tigers defense has played well all season, in three games they are giving up ranked 6th in the SEC in stopping the run and 5th against the pass. The Tigers are giving up on average about 339 yards a game, and 21.33 points per game. If you watched the Clemson game last Saturday night, then you know what to expect out of this Auburn defense. The front 7 on defense seem to be the strength, and can cause havoc if not controlled at the line of scrimmage. The Gamecock offense is coming off of a mediocre performance against Furman. Lattimore, Jeffrey and Garcia will all need to have good games if the Gamecocks have any chance of moving the ball on the Tigers this weekend. Currently USC is ranked 57th in overall offense in the nation, averaging 198 yards a game on the ground and 194 in the air.
Players that could cause problems for Garcia and the Gamecocks: LB Josh Bynes, and defensive lineman Nick Fairley lead the Tigers in tackles and sacks. Lineman Nick Fairley leads the SEC in sacks with 4, and tackles for a lose with 7. He will be a handful for Chisolm who did not play last week, due to a family death. The other hard hitter on the Auburn defense is linebacker Josh Bynes, who leads the team in tackles, averaging over 7 tackles a game. Last week against Clemson, it seemed like Bynes was in on every tackle. USC will need to find a way to slow down his rush, to allow Lattimore and Garcia time to execute their plays.
Match up to watch: Garcia vs. Auburn Linebackers. As we saw last weekend against Furman, if Garcia doesn't have time, he will make mistakes. Throwing 2 interceptions against Furman didn't cost USC the game, but throwing 2 interceptions against Auburn could be devastating . If USC can't run the ball against Auburn expect Bynes, Freeman and Bates to pin their ears back and go after Garcia early and often. If USC can get the ground game going, look for USC to have the advantage of using Lattimore, Maddox and DiMarco out of the backfield to create match up problems in the passing game.
What might happen: It will be a physical game, just like the Auburn/ Clemson game a week ago. USC will need to get the lead early to keep the hostile crowd quieted down. Look for the Auburn defense to try and stop the run early, to put more pressure on Garcia. Look for Carolina's defense to contain Newton, forcing him to throw the ball down field. If Gilmore, Holloman, or Culliver get a beat on the ball, look for some turnovers down the field by Auburn. Carolina will hopefully slow the game down just like in the Georgia game. Look for a low scoring, hard hitting game.
Prediction: Auburn 14 USC 17 Home field advantage will play a huge factor, but this Carolina team is to talented to let that phase them.