Buck says - USC 27, Auburn 23. I really couldn’t have less of a clue about this game. I have no feel for how good either team is at this point. Two weeks ago I would’ve probably said Carolina wins and feel pretty confident about it. But the dud against Furman has me worried. Don’t give me the argument that it’s par for the course for us to play that way against SoCon teams (Wofford twice, S.C. State), because those seasons didn’t exactly turn out rosy. It comes down to this – #5 for us has to play as well as or better than #2 for them. Both defenses are going to make the quarterbacks win the game through the air. We need Stephen Garcia to win this game for us. So I’m shutting my eyes tight, crossing my fingers and saying he will. Bonus prediction: Marcus Lattimore gets at least 20 carries and less than 75 yards.
Tbone says – USC 28 Auburn 17. Buck’s right, and Buck’s wrong. He’s right in placing a big bullseye on Stephen Achilles. Stephen’s play, on the road and in front of a hostile crowd, will be the biggest determining factor in this contest. Few players telegraph their comfort level in a game more than Garcia. If he gets uncomfortable, he hesitates. If he hesitates, he gets down on himself. If he gets down on himself, you might as well give the mouse a cookie, cause we’re in a spiral of shame (I think its safe to say that Steven Orr doesn’t help in that situation, either). That said, I look for Garcia to benefit from our newfound balance and manage the game effectively. Where Buck is wrong is giving Auburn 23 points. Unless we throw a couple of picks (see above), Malzahn and crew won’t get past the high teens on Ellis Johnson now that he has his full strength crew. Oh, and I agree on Lattimore: Auburn will be keying on him all night long.
G-Man says-USC 21-20. I am hoping the the flatness last week was due to the opponent and SOS’s desire to play it close to the vest. We need to bring our A game, and them some, to the Plains. While Garcia is an enigma, I do think his experience playing in hostile SEC venues is a plus. Newton is still green and I expect EJ to bring it and bring it hard. Expect some corner blitzes, but Culliver must wrap up instead of throwing the shoulder-otherwise Newton will bounce right off. On O, we must stick with the run, even if AU stops us at first. I don’t see us winning a game where the ball gets chunked a bunch. The winning formula: 150 yards on the ground, one to zero turnovers on O, two or more turnovers on D, and tough red zone defense. Going somewhat with my heart and predicting we do these things, and hold on for a narrow victory.