South Carolina at #5 Auburn Preview and Predictions

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Oct 11, 2014; Starkville, MS, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall (14) hands the ball off to running back Cameron Artis-Payne (44) during the game at Davis Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn’s Keys to Victory

1. Get Back to Running the Ball. The Tigers ran for 232 yards against Mississippi State, true. However, those who watched the game saw a Auburn running game that was only effective in spurts. Cameron Artis-Payne seemed to be running into a wall on half of his carries, Corey Grant was nonexistent, Nick Marshall could only break away on a couple of big scrambles and freshman Roc Thomas wasn’t experienced or conditioned well enough to become anything more than a spark of life for Auburn in the first quarter. Against a South Carolina defense that struggles against the run (Furman ran for 211 yards on the Gamecocks a week ago), Auburn should be more able to have success on the ground.

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2. Cut Down on Turnovers. Auburn’s offense was more responsible for Mississippi State’s 14-0 lead than Auburn’s defense was thanks to two early turnovers. Late in the game, when it seemed like Auburn had settled down and started to find a rhythm, Ricardo Louis fumbled on a kickoff return. Late in the game, down two possessions, a Nick Marshall interception basically ended Auburn’s comeback hopes. The first three turnovers resulted in Bulldog touchdowns and the fourth allowed them to run the clock out. Back at home, after a bye week? I highly doubt the Tigers will be so generous to the defense this week.

3. Continue the Good Play on Defense. Sure, the Tigers gave up 38 points to Mississippi State. However, 21 of those points came after turnovers when Mississippi State had excellent field position. Auburn’s defense, even in its worst game of the season, frustrated Dak Prescott, forced four turnovers and kept the Tigers in it until the fumbled kickoff. In Auburn’s five wins this year, they’ve only allowed 306 yards per game. This is still the unit that held Kansas State to 285 yards (40 rushing) on their home field earlier in the season, and Kansas State has sense emerged as a true power in the Big 12.