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SEC Upset Special: South Carolina vs. Auburn

Nov 2, 2013; Columbia, SC, USA; The South Carolina Gamecocks flag is ran across the endzone after a score during the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Williams-Brice Stadium. The Gamecocks defeated the Bulldogs 34-16. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

It hasn’t been the best season for South Carolina, but you should like the Gamecocks’ chances of keeping the Auburn game close. Steve Spurrier’s squad will enter Saturday’s matchup as a 17.5-point underdog, but I will give you a couple reasons why his team will be able to win with the points.

Time of Possession

The Gamecocks offense knows how to sustain drives and they know how to chew clock as well. One example from last season that stood out was the Carolina-Clemson game. Clemson had a high-powered offense with Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins, but the Gamecocks were able to keep the Tigers offense off the field. They controlled the ball for much of that game and I think we could see the same thing on Saturday.

How do they win the time of possession battle? They are able to chew time off the clock because of their power running game and the ability to convert on third down. The rushing attack is led by junior Mike Davis, who has 662 yards and eight touchdowns on the season. Brandon Wilds is also averaging 4.9 yards per carry.

Spurrier is an excellent offensive coach when it comes to fitting a game plan with opponents' weaknesses.

Spurrier is an excellent offensive coach when it comes to fitting a game plan with opponents’ weaknesses.

Spurrier’s offense is also effective because of how he utlitizes the play-action pass. The Gamecocks like to take shots down the field, and they are usually successful because of  the effectiveness of the run game.

South Carolina has won the time of possession battle in 5 of its 7 games this season, with Texas A&M and Furman being the two exceptions.

I’m not forgetting that Auburn’s offense is the best when it comes to running the football and sustaining drives, but I think Carolina’s offense will stay on the field enough that Auburn won’t be able to cover the 17.5-point spread on this game.

Ol’ Ball Coach Gets It Done

If I’m in need of a big win, Spurrier is the guy I’m going to. He knows how to win big games because he is flexible with his game plan. He doesn’t have to beat you the same way every week. The Gamecocks have been known for bad losses over the last two years—games they should have won—but Spurrier knows how to win big games.

It’s also worth noting that South Carolina will have almost three weeks to prepare for Auburn. They were off on October 11th and just recently played Furman this past weekend. Though coaches won’t publicly say it, it’s hard to imagine that some of last week’s preparation didn’t include looking ahead to Auburn.

Conclusion

South Carolina’s defense needs help right now and they are facing an Auburn offense that is very explosive, so this pick may seem a little brave. A 17.5-point spread is a bit high in my opinion, though, against a Carolina offense that can compete with almost any defense in the country.

Because of Carolina’s ability to control the clock, Auburn’s offense will be on the sideline too much Saturday to cover the points. South Carolina will have to make plays defensively to have a shot at winning the game, but the offense will be enough to keep things close.

Auburn 34, South Carolina 27

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