Cam Newton Powers Auburn in Rally and Into Contention

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Cam Newton Powers Auburn in Rally and Into Contention
Cam Newton piling up the running yardage (Todd Van Emst photo)

In a big game between a pair of top 20 teams, Auburn produced a gutsy come-from-behind win over SEC East leader South Carolina, 35-27.

After learning that Alabama had come from behind to beat another top SEC team, Auburn kept pace by doing exactly the same thing.

Auburn stood tall on Saturday and proved that should be in the talk about teams that can not only win an SEC title, but a BCS berth as well.

That is, if they can keep Cam Newton healthy.

Most quarterbacks throw for yardage rather than run, but that isn't true of Newton. His legs are the reason Auburn won the game after running for 176 yards. That's more rushing yardage than the rest of team combined.

The question that bothers Auburn fans is: how long can Newton stay healthy with him running that much against other SEC teams?

Without Newton, Auburn is simply a decent SEC team; with him, they could be contenders. He threw two touchdowns in the fourth-quarter rally.

With Newton, the Tigers are a threat to pass or run; without him they play an inexperienced quarterback who may resemble a deer in headlights.

The defense, though it gave up 27 points, really came through for the Tigers, and the turnovers they got helped turn the Gamecocks away more than once. They are a young opportunistic defense that is coming together very well.

South Carolina, which led after each of the first three quarters, ended the game with their last four possessions with a fumble, fumble, interception, and interception. That is the result of a good defense.

Just as Auburn learned that Alabama had shut down Arkansas in the fourth quarter, so did the Tigers. Big turnovers sealed the deal in Auburn much as it had for Alabama in Fayetteville.

Now it looks like these two teams could decide the fate of the SEC West.

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