Before the season started, many Carolina fans pointed to the Auburn game as the one SEC game that USC could probably afford to drop. Assuming we'd take care of Georgia, Missouri, and Texas A&M, a single loss to an SEC West opponent most likely wouldn't be enough to keep Carolina from reaching Atlanta. Well, as we all know, this season has gone anything but according to plan.
The matchup against Auburn, while still very intriguing, surely isn't as important as it was forecasted to be back in August. The Tigers have done their part making this a marquee matchup, cruising to a 5-1 record, although coming off a bad loss to Mississippi State. Meanwhile, USC takes a 2-3 SEC record to the Plains, hoping to make a somewhat respectable bowl.
History suggests that Carolina won't be leaving The Heart of Dixie victorious. Given the way USC has looked recently, some may even say the 19 points Auburn is giving South Carolina isn't enough. But hey, anything could happen...right?
How to witness
7:30 p.m. ET, Jordan-Hare Stadium (Auburn, AL)
Channel: SEC Network
Play-by-play: Brent Musburger
Analysis: Jesse Palmer
Sideline: Maria Taylor
Channel: Gamecock IMG Sports Network
Play-by-play: Todd Ellis
Analysis: Tommy Suggs
Sideline: Langston Moore
Rankings and records: South Carolina is 4-3 (2-3) and is unranked in both the AP Poll and the Coaches Poll. Auburn is 5-1 (2-1), ranked 5th in the AP Poll and 6th in the Coaches Poll.
Vegas: Auburn is a 19-point favorite.
Weather forecast: Low 60's, clear skies
What's at stake
This is a much bigger game for Auburn than it is South Carolina. If an unranked Gamecocks squad can upset the Tigers, it would basically knock Auburn out of playoffs (which would be quite satisfying considering what Cam Newton did to USC a few years ago). A victory would give new life to South Carolina's 2014 campaign. Win this game, along with the remaining schedule (which is winnable), and Carolina is looking at a pretty decent bowl. A loss simply proves, again, that this USC team was extremely overrated.
One huge matchup
Nick Marshall vs Lorenzo Ward: While there are a few interesting matchups in this game, this is without a doubt the most important one. If Coach Ward hasn't found a way to at least slow down Auburn's QB, Nick Marshall, it's not really going to matter what the Gamecocks do on offense. Marshall leads the 3rd ranked offense in the SEC, ripping defenses with both his legs and arm. South Carolina's inability to stop the run this year has been well documented, giving up over 181 YDS/G on the ground. Auburn, which averages 262 YDS/G rushing, is going to run right at USC until they stop it. Unfortunately, if USC stacks the box, Marshall has two extremely talented wide receivers in D'haquille Williams and Sammie Coates to throw to. Unless Coach Ward has seen something in the Mississippi State/Auburn film that Carolina can copy, it could very well be a miserable night for USC's defense.