The Battle Over Rocky Top

Todd CarltonContributor IOctober 2, 2009

Auburn v Tennessee.  In a game that has lost some of its magic since the SEC expansion in 1991 we find a renewed excitement.  The 2009 version is unique in a way we haven't seen before.  Both programs are in rebuilding modes and both are fighting for respect with the likes of Florida, Alabama, and LSU all among the top 5 teams in the country.  There's plenty at stake in week five for the two most intriguing programs in the SEC.

Will Monte Kiffin control the Auburn attack the same way he was able to wrangle in Tim Tebow and Florida?  Will Hardesty find the same holes in the Auburn line that Noel Devine did just a few weeks ago?  Or will Malzahn work his magic once again to quiet the road crowd?  How about the Auburn defense that is taking the ball away from opponents at a record pace?  Will they pressure Crompton the same way UCLA did forcing him to make mistakes?

 Tennessee must establish the run in order to win this game.  Crompton is incapable of beating Auburn by himself.  If Auburn is able to stop the run and force Crompton to throw the ball you will see Auburn scoring on defense. 

Auburn on the other hand has shown that if you stack eight or nine in the box they will throw it at you.  The x-factor is Tennessee safety Eric Berry who might have the best instincts I've seen at getting to the ball.  Chris Todd must know where he is at all times.  Luckily for Auburn they have several receivers stepping up this season so it will be difficult for Tennessee to target one or even two receivers.

This game will come down to the linebackers at Auburn.  If they show up and are able to stop the tandem of Hardesty and Brown, Auburn wins...and it won't be close.  The only way Tennessee stays in this game is if they are able to slow the tempo down by grinding out first down after first down.  Tennessee will not be able to stay with Auburn if this turns into a track meet. 

Team morale is skyrocketing down in Auburn while up in Knoxville you're hearing reports of finger pointing and Coach Lane Kiffin going off on the team during a practice this week, you have to wonder if things are south up north.  Add all this up and it looks like the writing is on the wall....Auburn 38 Tennessee 17