With the 2010 SEC championship game being set in stone this past Saturday as Auburn won at home, against Georgia, and South Carolina won on the road in the Swamp against Florida, several questions are raised.
With the earlier game between the two teams ending in an eight-point Auburn win, one has to wonder if the same thing will happen? With South Carolina having been given the opportunity to see more of Auburn on film, can it stop the Auburn offense.
One of the bigger questions though, is that with the growth and development of Marcus Lattimore will Auburn's defense be able to stop Lattimore now, like they did earlier in the year? Will they be able to stop Stephen Garcia's passing?
Lattimore plays like anything but a freshman. He is the Gamecocks' most valuable player without question. He makes the jobs of Stephen Garcia, Alshon Jeffery, Tori Gurley and D.L. Moore easier as well. It has been said that if Marcus Lattimore didn't have ankles he would never be tackled.
Marcus Lattimore has had three games of over 180 yards now, all those games are wins. He made everyone outside of South Carolina take notice when he rushed for 212 yards, and added an additional 31 receiving against Florida. Lattimore totaled 243 yards in a game where Florida totaled 226.
If Spurrier decides to start the game by attacking Auburn with Garcia and his usual suspects in Jeffery and Gurley, it could open up the running game for Lattimore. Auburn stopped Lattimore early in the previous 2010 matchup, which, as previously mentioned, caused Spurrier to abandon the run.
I don't see Spurrier abandoning the run again if Lattimore is healthy. The Gamecocks have matured and Spurrier is beginning to believe in his team. Spurrier still sets the tone for his team, and if he goes into Atlanta upbeat and pumped, his team will too.
The Gamecocks have an advantage in being able to play Auburn a second time in one season, but Auburn has the same advantage. Do those advantages equal out? You could say that they do, but it's very possible this tilts in the Gamecocks' favor.
The Gamecocks can use the extra time and extra film to study Cam Newton and the Tiger offense, and the offense can find ways to attack Auburn's heavily criticized defense. The Gamecocks need to go in much like they have against Alabama and Florida. Be ready to run, but know that they can attack deep if needed.
The playmakers and weapons for the Gamecocks, if healthy, are just as dangerous as the marquee players on any other team in the country. When they execute the game plan and play with emotion they win games by rather large margins.
When they become complacent and drag their feet they lose and lose ugly. The losses are behind them already, but two games remain before Auburn in Atlanta. The Gamecocks' final home game is this weekend against Troy, and the atmosphere will be unlike anything Troy is used to seeing.
This is a long suffering fan base who now is guaranteed a championship game. The fans will be excited, and they will be loud. The Gamecocks will likely follow suit. Expect a large part of that crowd to make its presence felt in Atlanta since this is South Carolina's first trip to Atlanta to fight for the SEC Crown, and the well-traveling Gamecock faithful will be going with them.