Auburn Football: Previewing Week 3 Game Against the Clemson Tigers

Matthew BrennanCorrespondent IISeptember 14, 2011

Auburn Football: Previewing Week 3 Game Against the Clemson Tigers

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    The Auburn Tigers hit the road this Saturday to face the Clemson Tigers at noon ET in a matchup of 2-0 teams. The No. 21 Auburn Tigers enter the game after a big win against Mississippi State, while Clemson struggled to defeat FCS program Wofford in their last game.  

    Auburn returned to the AP poll this week after dropping out the week before and also moved up to No. 19 in the USA Today poll. Unranked Clemson is receiving some votes in the USA Today poll, but none from the AP.

    The two teams met last season, with Auburn taking away a 27-24 overtime victory at Jordan-Hare Stadium after Clemson blew a 17-0 lead, then missed a field goal in overtime. Auburn also defeated Clemson in overtime in the 2007 Peach Bowl.

    Saturday’s game from Memorial Stadium will air on ABC.

The Opponent: Clemson Tigers

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    The Clemson Tigers are 2-0 on the season, but will be facing their toughest opponent yet in Auburn. Clemson easily defeated Troy in their opening game, but barely got by Wofford last week, 35-27. They are aiming for their first 3-0 start since the 2007 season.

    Dabo Swinney’s team features a dynamic quarterback and running back duo in Tajh Boyd and Andre Elllington.

    Boyd, in his first year as the starter, has thrown for 525 yards and six touchdowns over the first two games. Ellington has compiled 247 yards rushing and one touchdown.

Tigers vs. Tigers

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    Auburn has dominated their all-time series with Clemson, winning the last 14 meetings between the teams. Clemson’s last win over Auburn came back in 1951, and Auburn is 34-11-2 against Clemson in school history.

    The last two games between the teams both went to overtime, including Auburn's win in the 2007 Peach Bowl.

    The (Auburn) Tigers are putting a 17-game winning streak, the longest current streak in the FBS, on the line against Clemson. Auburn has also won its first road game of the season for seven years in a row.

Auburn's Last-Minute Wins

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    The Tigers seem to be living a charmed life under Gene Chizik, as they’ve continued last year’s trend of pulling out victories in the final minute and coming from behind.

    Auburn didn’t need a comeback last week, but they still escaped by the skin of their teeth in stopping Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf at the goal line. It was the second dramatic win for Auburn after using an onside kick to get past Utah State in the season-opener.

    After winning two games in dramatic fashion, the Tigers have to have a lot of confidence heading into Saturday. They’ve displayed a knack for finding ways to win against all odds. Chizik and the staff have to hope they don’t have to resort to similar theatrics against Clemson, but it’s nice to know they are capable of pulling out a win.

Barrett Trotter's Next Challenge

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    Barrett Trotter is off to an excellent start in his first year as Auburn’s starting quarterback. The junior has led the Tigers to two victories while throwing for 407 yards and five touchdowns.

    Trotter excelled in his first two games at home, but he will face another challenge with his first start on the road in Clemson’s Death Valley.

    Clemson’s defense enters Saturday’s game giving up 192.5 yards passing with two interceptions.

Stopping Andre Ellington

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    Auburn’s defense continued to struggle against the run in the Mississippi State game. The Tigers are the ninth-worst team against the run in FBS, with opponents averaging 489.5 yards rushing per game.

    Clemson running back Andre Ellington has had two good games this season against inferior opponents, but he’s also demonstrated success against Auburn. He ran for 140 yards in last year’s meeting between the teams.

    Star running backs Robert Turbin (Utah State) and Vick Ballard (Mississippi State) have already run wild against Auburn, so expect a big performance from Ellington unless the Auburn defense can orchestrate a turnaround.

Auburn's Running Game Getting Back on Track

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    Auburn’s running game struggled in their opening game, but the Tigers' running attack sprang to life against Mississippi State. Michael Dyer broke out with 143 yards and two touchdowns, while Onterio McCalebb added 66 yards.

    Auburn should be able to run the ball again on Saturday against Clemson. Clemson’s defense allowed FBS Wofford to post 272 yards rushing last Saturday, so Dyer and McCalebb should be able to pile up the yards.

    Dyer is currently tied for the lead among SEC running backs with four touchdowns. He ranks third with 199 yards rushing.

Clemson's Slow Starts

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    Clemson enters the game with a 2-0 record, but the Tigers haven’t exactly rolled over their opponents in their first two games.

    Clemson trailed Troy at halftime 16-13 in their first game, then went on to trail Wofford in the third quarter before emerging with another win.

    If Clemson is slow out of the gate once again, they will be in deep trouble against an Auburn team that has not had any trouble piling up the points. Auburn scored 31 points in the first half against Mississippi State.

Emory Blake Breaking out for Auburn

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    Senior Emory Blake has had a solid career for Auburn, but he’s enjoying a breakout senior season as the Tigers' top wide receiver.

    Blake and Barrett Trotter have connected for two long touchdowns in both of Auburn’s games, and Blake will enter the Clemson game with 10 catches for 203 yards. Blake has now caught a touchdown pass in five straight games dating back to last season.

    If Blake can continue on this pace, he has a chance to become the first 1,000-yard receiver for Auburn since 2000.

Freshmen Sensations in Action

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    Both teams have seen big contributions from true freshmen playmakers early in the season, with Auburn running back Tre Mason and Clemson wideout Sammy Watkins finding the end zone very early in their college careers.

    Auburn's Mason has established himself as a very dangerous kick returner, ranking second in the nation with 348 yards and 10th with 34.8 yards per return. Mason took a return back 97 yards for a touchdown against Utah State.

    Watkins has stepped right in as Clemson’s top threat in the passing game. He’s caught 11 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns to begin his career with the Tigers.

    Both players were top recruits in the Class of 2011 out of the talent-rich state of Florida.