The Daily Gamecock

Behind Enemy Lines: 5 questions with Plainsman sports editor Eric Wallace

1. How was the loss to Mississippi State received by the fans? Even though the Bulldogs are a good team, did anyone expect Auburn to lose that game?

The loss to Mississippi State was shocking to Auburn fans, mostly because of how poorly the Tigers played. The Bulldogs are a really good team, don't get me wrong. But Auburn continuously shot themselves in the foot, starting with the first two offensive plays. There was no way to surmount the mistakes already made once the deficit reached 21-0.

2. The Tigers still have to go to Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama. Do you see Auburn running the table and making the College Football Playoff?

I don't. Maybe if the schedule were reversed with Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama at home, but it's hard to see them running the table considering how poorly they managed the crowd noise in Starkville. With that said, Auburn is one of the most talented teams in the country, and if the offense can return to 2013 levels of efficiency, it wouldn't shock me if they made it through.

3. South Carolina has pulled off one upset already this year, what do you think Auburn has to do to avoid a similar same fate this week?

It's all on the offense. It's hard to say what exactly is ailing the offense, but it hasn't produced the consistent dominance this year that it showed late in 2013. Nick Marshall's accuracy needs to improve, the offensive line hasn't gotten the same push and an adequate replacement for fullback Jay Prosch  has yet to be found. Getting the run game going against South Carolina will be the first step in returning the offense to the machine it once was.

4. Bigger rivalry: South Carolina vs. Clemson or Auburn vs. Alabama? Show your work.

The Iron Bowl, and it's honestly not that close. Clemson-South Carolina is a great rivalry with plenty of passion on both sides, but someone was literally murdered in Birmingham after last year's game because of the outcome. The overall series is tight (40-34 in Alabama's favor) and with Auburn fans forever holding a grudge over the poisoning of Toomer's Corner, it's not likely this rivalry will ever die down.

5. The Tigers' roster is full of household names for anyone that keeps up with college football. Who are some Auburn players that Gamecock fans may not have heard of, but could make an impact this week?

Offense: D'haquille Williams is a professional wide receiver playing against college kids. Not officially, but there are times when he makes it look like it. At 6'2 and 216 pounds, Williams   provides a threat with his speed, physicality and leaping ability in the red zone. There are times, especially when Auburn gains a big lead, where Duke isn't used as often. But when Nick Marshall needs to make a play, as he did in the final drive against Kansas State, he is going to look for Williams.

Defense: Johnathan "Rudy" Ford is a converted running back who is finally making a name for himself at safety. He currently leads the team in tackles and is second on the team in interceptions.  Rudy has also shown that he's not afraid to come up in run support. On a unit that's progressed significantly since 2013, Ford has been one of Auburn's most pleasant surprises.


Auburn 52, South Carolina 24

Gus Malzahn and Auburn were a different team after their loss to LSU in 2013. With a full two weeks to prepare for South Carolina's 87th-ranked defense, I see no reason the Gus Bus won't get back to its old ways. Expect a bounce-back performance from the Tigers.


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