In a game set to match two top SEC teams on Saturday, only one team can come out on top.
South Carolina needs this game much more than Auburn.
After phoning it in against Furman, South Carolina still has alot to prove. Their ball-control offense and suffocating defense has really yet to be put to the test. Auburn, after winning a physical battle to South Carolina's arch rival Clemson, has been tested, and has proved its mettle.
South Carolina is young, talented and on the rise. They now have extra motivation, with the tragic loss of an all-time great, Kenny McKinley, to suicide. They are a force to be reckoned with.
Here are some reasons why South Carolina needs this game much more than Auburn.
1. This is the seasons first true benchmark game.
Some may argue that the first game against a talented Southern Miss team was a benchmark game, but South Carolina won handily in that match up. Others will say it was Georgia, but Georgia isn't the same Georgia, and it was at Williams Brice.
This is the first road game against a real ranked opponent. Not a pre-season hype machine. A team that has earned its ranking. If South Carolina proves itself to be worthy against the Auburn Tigers, they can generate some serious steam towards winning an SEC East championship.
2. This is the game before an important bye week- and an even more important game.
South Carolina would have a significant boost in confidence if they enter the bye week before the Alabama game with a 4-0 record, including two wins against (at one point) ranked SEC opponents.
People underrate confidence. There is a reason that South Carolina has a historical record of .500. The confidence falters and the players start thinking about the history. "Oh... well, we are going to start losing just like always".
Coach Spurrier has done a tremendous job coaching this years team thus far. This game will really test his ability.
3. This is the first road game of the season.
As previously stated, this game is the first road test. That in and of itself is huge. Especially at a stadium like Auburn's.
The place will be rocking, and once again, Carolina has not been in this position. Carolina plays very comfortable at home, winning 11 of the last 12 match ups. The road has been awful for the team. Stephen Garcia must shine on the road, to ensure a victory.
If this truly is a new Carolina, they must get this first big road win.
4. This is a prime time ESPN game, and an opportunity for a coming out party for South Carolina.
Auburn has the history and the reputation of an elite SEC team. Many people around the country don't really view South Carolina as an average SEC team. Many people even foolishly lump Carolina into the same category as Vanderbilt.
That is a huge mistake. This is an opportunity for South Carolina to have a coming out party of sorts, and for the whole nation to see it.
If you don't think recruits are watching, then you don't know much about college football.
5. This game can serve as an opportunity to honor the memory of a cherished Gamecock, Kenny McKinley.
South Carolina needs to win this game for Kenny. He was one of the most beloved Gamecocks of all time. There are many opinions on suicide out there, and many people who can't possibly understand what he meant the the team.
He was all that was right about college sports.
This game can serve as the turning point in South Carolina football... and Kenny McKinley's memory can forever be associated with the game that turned it around. I can't think of a better tribute to number 11.