No. 9 Gamecocks go for revenge against Auburn

South Carolina tries to avenge a blowout loss to Auburn in last year’s SEC Championship Game when the ninth-ranked Gamecocks host the Tigers on Saturday.

Behind the running of sophomore Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina averages 36.5 points and has established itself as the favorite to repeat as SEC East champ. Lattimore failed to break 100 yards rushing for the first time this season in last week’s 21-3 victory over Vanderbilt, but still leads the SEC in rushing.

Auburn rebounded from its first loss since 2009 last week, shaking off a sluggish first half to beat Florida Atlantic 30-14. The Tigers feature a standout sophomore back of their own in Michael Dyer, who ranks third in the conference in rushing. Auburn’s defense allowed fewer than 30 points for the first time all season.

The Tigers beat South Carolina twice last season, including a 56-17 rout in the SEC Championship Game. Auburn leads the all-time series 8-1-1 and has beaten the Gamecocks six consecutive times. South Carolina has not beaten Auburn since 1933.

Defensive concerns abound for the defending national champions. One week after allowing 624 yards of total offense in a 38-24 loss at Clemson, Auburn gave up 143 first-half yards to a Florida Atlantic team that had yet to score a touchdown in 2011. But the Tigers forced two second-half turnovers that set up 10 points. Dyer, who rushed for 68 yards, has a pair of 150-yard rushing games and three two-touchdown games.

The Gamecocks plan to start troubled quarterback Stephen Garcia this week. Head coach Steve Spurrier lamented the offense’s lack of effectiveness against Vanderbilt, highlighted by Garcia’s four interceptions.

South Carolina held Vanderbilt to 77 yards, the Gamecocks’ lowest total allowed since holding Wake Forest to 66 yards in 1987.  Defensive end Melvin Ingram earned SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors, scoring his third touchdown of the season by recovering a fumble in the end zone.
TV: CBS 3:30 p.m.. Line: USC -10.5

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