Early into the season, the crew on ESPN deemed Cam Newton worthy an honor few who play in college football ever receive—a memorable nickname.
Surprisingly, it was Lou Holtz who made the best effort with “Fig Newton.” While this isn't a name that conjures up images of defensive coordinators cowering on the sideline, it beat out the next best option, which was “The Newtonator.”
Then Lou reminded me why his commentary is almost completely unbearable, by finishing his thought: “…because he’s healthy and sweet for Auburn offense." As if Fig Newton wasn't cutesy and lame enough already.
But he was on to something. I began tweaking the name a bit, and for the last six weeks I have given the old college effort at making BIG NEWTON stick. The kid is 6’6" and 250 lbs. His last name is Newton. Need I say more?
And Lou was right: He is healthy and sweet for Auburn's offense. And yet, week in and week out, there are many who still refuse to believe in Big Newton's talent and potential. He leads the SEC in rushing, has thrown for 12 touchdowns and has run for nine more. At this point, no defense has found any one effective way to handle the guy.
Now consider how Big Newton has progressed over the course of six weeks. The kid went from staring down single receivers, to opening up an offense packed full of weapons.
With Fannin back in full swing and able to do a stand-up job at slot receiver or running back, Darvin Adams as impressive as ever and the timely discovery of Phillip Lutzenkirchen, the Tigers have a passing offense about as solid as they come. And don’t forget about their rushing game (as if you could).
Look, I’m not asking you to bow down and worship the phenomenon in the making that is Big Newton. My only point is that Lou was right. This guy is healthy and sweet for Auburn's offense. You’d be a fool to say otherwise.
And a team with a breakthrough player and a 6-0 start has infinite possibilities—see Alabama/Ingram 2009.
As for this weekend, all we can do is wait and see. This is an extremely interesting matchup on paper, but I believe it's going to be a decisive victory, though for who, it remains to be seen.
I am reluctant to call anything because Arkansas is going to put up points, and Auburn's defense will need to have their best performance to date. One thing is certain: The Arkansas defense will need to come hungry—there will be plenty of Big Newton to go around.