The Daily Gamecock

Into the Tigers' den: South Carolina faces long odds at No. 5 Auburn

South Carolina has been in this situation before.

Five weeks ago, the Gamecocks were staring down the nose of a top-10 Georgia team that looked unbeatable, and they won. 

But that's about where the similarities end.

When South Carolina (4-3, 2-3 SEC) takes on No. 5 Auburn (5-1, 2-1 SEC) Saturday, it won't be in the friendly confines of Williams-Brice, but in a hostile Jordan-Hare stadium. This is the same venue that, a season ago, saw a converted Hail Mary to beat Georgia and the infamous "Kick Six" against Alabama that essentially propelled Auburn into the National Championship. 

The Tigers tend not to lose in Jordan-Hare,  and the Tigers tend not to lose to the Gamecocks.

South Carolina has just one win against Auburn ever. That was in 1933. 

But the Gamecocks can't afford to walk into the plains with their heads down if the team hopes to salvage anything from what can only be qualified as a failed season thus far.

"We've been there, in loud places, before," fifth-year senior quarterback Dylan Thompson said. "We've been around a lot of fun environments, and that's why we come here. We come here to play in these games."

Despite the Gamecocks' less-than-stellar record against the Tigers over the years, the team from Columbia has made a habit of knocking off favored opponents recently.

Including this year's upset of No. 6 Georgia, South Carolina has toppled eight higher-ranked teams in the regular season dating back to the 2010/11 campaign. But only three have come away from home, and only one of those road upsets has come against a team not called the Clemson Tigers.  

Auburn hasn't lost a home game since its disastrous 2012/13 season that saw the Tigers go winless in the SEC. But since going from worst to first a year ago, Auburn has put together a 13-game winning streak in Jordan-Hare. 

If South Carolina is to pull off the upset Saturday night, it will have to use the same blueprint that designed the win over Georgia.

The Bulldogs are top in the SEC for rushing yards per game with 265.9, and Auburn isn't far behind at No. 3 with 262. So if there's a glimmer of hope for the Gamecocks in this matchup, it's their ability to handle a rushing attack when they have to. 

"We slowed Georgia down a bit when we played them," head coach Steve Spurrier said.  "We've got to hope and believe we can slow (Auburn) down."

One element that the Gamecocks can't prepare for is the attitude the Tigers are sure to bring into Saturday's meeting.

The last time Auburn played, it left No. 1 Mississippi State with its first loss of the season.  The Tigers were idle last weekend, so they've had two weeks to stew over the defeat that saw them go down by three scores in the first quarter to the Bulldogs. 

As the fifth-ranked team in the country, the Tigers are very much alive in the hunt for a spot in the four-team College Football Playoff. But they almost certainly can't afford to lose another game.

Especially not to an unranked South Carolina team.

After Auburn's meeting with the Gamecocks is decided, it faces road trips to No. 3 Ole Miss, No. 9 Georgia and No. 4 Alabama before the season is over. 

South Carolina's most recent meeting with Auburn saw the Gamecocks fall short in their first-ever SEC championship game appearance, but that was in 2010, and not much remains from that historic squad. 

But the Head Ball Coach is still hanging around, and at this point, he isn't phased by much.

Not even a trip to 17.5-point favorite and No. 5 team in the nation Auburn. 

"It'll be a challenge for us," Spurrier said. "We've got to play our A-game, see if we can get a break or two and see what happens at Auburn Saturday night."


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