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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Running pre-game SEC title game blog post

You're looking LIVE at an empty Georgia Dome, still two and a half hours before kickoff for today's SEC championship game. Not much to report from the dome today (chance of rain: 0 percent, temperature: 70), but I will be posting updates all the way up to kickoff, so check back.

Follow the blog on Twitter for instant updates. And be sure to check out all of our advance coverage of the game that was in today's paper.

You like minutia. I like minutia. Let's go over some pre-game minutia then, shall we?
  • Auburn, which is ranked No. 1 in the BCS rankings, is in the SEC championship game for the first time since 2004.
  • It's the Tigers' fourth title game appearance. They are 1-2 in the game (beat Tennessee 38-28 in 2004, lost to Florida 28-6 in 2000 and lost to Tennessee 30-29 in 1997).
  • South Carolina, which is 9-3, is making its first appearance in the title game. The Gamecocks have won one conference football title in 117 years. They won the 1969 ACC championship.
  • Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier is no stranger to championship football, though. He won six SEC championships with Florida (1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000) and one with Duke (1989).
  • Auburn has a 7-1-1 lead in the series all-time.
  • Auburn has played 12 games in its history in a domed stadium. The Tigers are 5-6-1 in those games. South Carolina has played one game indoors, in 1973 against Houston it the Astrodome.
  • The Tigers have won or shared the SEC West title seven times since 1997.
  • Auburn is the only team nationally that has beaten five teams currently ranked in the AP top 25. Nobody outside of the SEC West has beaten more than two.
  • The Tigers have trailed in eight of their 12 victories. Four times they overcame double-digit deficits.
  • Auburn is ranked sixth nationally in rushing offense (291.3 ypg), seventh in scoring offense (41.6 ppg) and eighth in total offense (490.1 ypg).
  • The Tigers have already set the single-season school record for points (499) and total offense (5,881). They are also on pace to set records for per-game averages in both categories as well.
  • QB Cam Newton leads the SEC and is 11th nationally in rushing yards (111.3 ypg). He's the only player in the country with five games of 170 or more yards this year.
  • He ranks second nationally with 43 touchdowns accounted for. That's more than 69 other FBS schools.
  • RB Mike Dyer needs 114 yards to reach 1,000 this season. His 886 yards are sixth most among freshmen this year.
  • RB Onterio McCalebb's 8.52 yards per carry average is second in the nation among rushers in the top 100.
  • Auburn is 10th nationally at rushing defense, giving up 108.0 yards per game.
  • Second-half stat: Auburn's defense had held opponents to 17-for-72 on third down conversion attempts in the second half and overtime this year. That's 23.6 percent.
  • DT Nick Fairley leads the SEC and is tied for fifth nationally with 20 tackles for a loss. That's tied for most in school history since the stat started being kept in 1981.
  • While Auburn has the SEC's top-ranked rushing offense, South Carolina has the league's best rushing defense, giving up 93.2 yards per game. The Tigers ran for 334 yards int the teams' first meeting.
  • The passing defenses? Not so great. Auburn is 106th nationally (255.2 ypg). South Carolina is 99th (245.5 ypg).
  • RB Marcus Lattimore is South Carolina's all-time single-season touchdowns leader with 19. The freshman needs one more to tie Tennessee's Reggie Cobb (1987) for the SEC freshman record. Lattimore and Newton are tied for the league lead in touchdowns scored.
  • WR Alshon Jeffery broke the Gamecocks' single-season records for receiving yards. The sophomore has 1,351 yards.
  • Stephen Garcia is the third SC quarterback to top 6,000 passing yards in his career, joining Todd Ellis (9,953) and Steve Taneyille (8,762). Garcia has 6,340.
  • The Gamecocks lead the SEC and are tied for third nationally with 39 sacks. DE Melvin Ingram has 8. DE Devin Taylor has 7.5.
  • And lastly, South Carolina will wear all garnet uniforms today. Auburn will wear all whites.
UPDATE, 1:21 p.m.: Players still haven't re-emerged from locker room yet. In the meantime, here's a sampling of Gene Chizik's coaches Q&A in the game program: first car (Cutlass Supreme), Listening to (Oldies), first date with wife (Went out to eat), who would play him in a movie (Matt Damon) and favorite home-cooked meal (grilled ribeyes).

Damon? Really? Any ideas out there for somebody who looks more like Chizik? I saw Gary Sinise before. That's be a good one.

UPDATE, 1:57 p.m.: Here's someone with a good camera, Auburn's photographer Todd Van Emst, with some pre-game shots.
UPDATE, 2:27 p.m.: Auburn on the field for pre-game stretching. Looks like everyone's here. LB Jessel Curry the only exception.

UPDATE, 2:46 p.m.: Some lineup updates. T'Sharvan Bell will start at CB in place of Demond Washington. LB Eltoro Freeman gets another start. So does P Ryan Shoemaker.


postermom said...

Oldies? My illusions are shattered. But if he wins today, I'll overlook that.

Anonymous said...

Nah, Matt Damon over Sinise.

And nowadays, anything from the 1980s is considered oldies. Quiet Riot rules!!!

postermom said...

Andy, the players have said they started out slow in the last couple of games because they were too hyped up. Can you get a feel for their energy today? It sure would be nice for them to come out focused for all four quarters.

Andy Bitter said...

They look the same as they do in every pre-game. How can you not be hyped up for the SEC title game?

postermom said...

Well, I'm about to yack, but I thought it was just me.

Anonymous said...

Why is Jessel Curry not there?

Andy Bitter said...

Not sure about Jessel. He's got some off the field things he's dealing with, I believe. Coaches have been vague about it. He missed the Chattanooga game too, I believe.

postermom said...

Don't feel like yacking any more. Could be the 14 pt. lead, could be the wine.