National TV: CBS Play-by-Play: Verne Lundquist
Analyst: Gary Danielson
Analyst: Tracy Wolfson
Gamecock Radio Network Network Broadcast begins at 1 p.m. ET Flagship: WNKT-FM 107.5 The Game
Play-by-Play: Todd Ellis
Analyst: Tommy Suggs
Sideline: Terry Cousin
SEC Radio Network (XM 199) Play-by-Play: Dave Neal
Analyst: Dave Archer
Sideline: Dave Baker
National Radio: Westwood One Play-by-Play: John Tautges
Analyst: Terry Donahue
Satellite Radio XM Radio Channel (Carolina Feed): 200
XM Radio Channel (SEC Network Feed): 199
SIRIUS "Best of XM" Channel (Carolina Feed): 219
SETTING THE STAGE No. 18/16 South Carolina, in its 19th season of Southeastern Conference football, will play for its first SEC Championship on Saturday as the Gamecocks face the No. 2-ranked (No. 1 BCS) Auburn Tigers in the 2010 SEC Championship Game. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga., with CBS providing a national telecast. South Carolina is the designated "home" team for this game.
The Gamecocks (9-3, 5-3 SEC) are the SEC Eastern Division Champions for the first time in school history, and are coming off a 29-7 victory over archrival Clemson last Saturday. Auburn (12-0, 8-0) is the SEC Western Division Champion for the fourth time, and overcame a 24-point deficit to win the "Iron Bowl" over Alabama last Friday, 28-27.
South Carolina has won one conference football title in 117 seasons of intercollegiate football. The Gamecocks captured the 1969 Atlantic Coast Conference championship with a perfect 6-0 record in ACC play and advanced to that year's Peach Bowl. Auburn will be seeking its seventh SEC title.
THE SERIES This marks the 10th game in the series with Auburn, which dates back to 1930. The Gamecocks are 1-7-1 all-time against the Tigers, and have lost five straight in the series. The two teams met earlier this season, with Auburn claiming a 35-27 victory at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
THE COACHES South Carolina: Steve Spurrier (Florida `67) Overall: 186-71-2 (21st season)
at South Carolina: 44-31 (6th season)
vs. Auburn: 10-6 (0-3 at Carolina)
Auburn: Gene Chizik (Florida '85) Overall: 25-24 (4th season)
at Auburn: 19-5 (2nd season)
vs. South Carolina: 1-0
QUICK HITS Sophomore WR Alshon Jeffery was named a First-Team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association, and is one of three finalists nationwide for the Biletnikoff Award, presented to the nation's top wide receiver.Jeffery leads the SEC and is fifth in the nation in receiving yards per game with 112.6 yards per contest.
Head Coach Steve Spurrier will be looking for his seventh SEC Championship and eighth conference title overall. He won SEC titles at Florida in 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 2000, and won an ACC title at Duke in 1989.
South Carolina will be playing indoors for just the second time in school history. The only other indoor game took place Sept. 21, 1973, as Carolina played Houston at the Astrodome. The Gamecocks fell to the Cougars 27-19.
Freshman RB Marcus Lattimore is South Carolina's all-time leader in single-season touchdowns with 19. He needs just one more score to tie Tennessee's Reggie Cobb (1987) for the SEC freshman scoring record, and six more scores would break Shaun Alexander's all-time SEC record of 24 touchdowns for Alabama in 1999. Lattimore is tied with Auburn's Cam Newton for the SEC lead in touchdowns scored with 19 apiece.
Sophomore WR Alshon Jeffery broke the school record for single-season receiving yards in the win over Troy, surpassing a 1,143-yard season by Sidney Rice in 2005. Jeffery passed Phillip Logan (2,063 yards) for 7th in the Clemson game.
Junior QB Stephen Garcia is the third quarterback in school history to top 6,000 career passing yards, joining Todd Ellis (9,953) and Steve Taneyhill (8,782) in that exclusive club with 6,340 yards. He passed Blake Mitchell (5,992) for third all-time at Carolina with a 198-yard effort vs. Troy. Garcia is also third all-time with 41 career touchdown passes.
Lattimore topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season against Troy, giving the Gamecocks a 1,000-yard rusher and a 1,000-yard receiver in the same season for the first time in school history. Lattimore now has 1,114 rushing yards on 232 carries, and Jeffery has amassed 1,351 yards on 75 receptions.
The Gamecocks lead the Southeastern Conference and are ranked No. 3 in the nation with a school-record 39 sacks (3.25 per game). DE Melvin Ingram leads the way with 8.0 sacks on the season, ranking him third in the SEC; DE Devin Taylor has 7.5 sacks to rank fourth in the league.
Carolina has scored six defensive touchdowns this season (five interceptions, one fumble), believed to be the most in school history. Six different players have scored defensively for Carolina: D.J. Swearinger, Chaz Sutton, Antonio Allen, Byron McKnight, Devin Taylor and Stephon Gilmore.
A SOUTH CAROLINA WIN OVER AUBURN WOULD... Give South Carolina its first Southeastern Conference championship and the second conference football title in school history (1969 ACC Champions).
Earn South Carolina's first bid to the Bowl Championship Series.
Give South Carolina 10 wins in a season for just the second time in school history (1984).
Be the Gamecocks' second win of the season over a No. 1-ranked team (Alabama).
Be South Carolina's first win over Auburn since joining the Southeastern Conference; Auburn is the only SEC team South Carolina has not beaten since joining the league in 1992.
Be South Carolina's fourth straight victory away from Williams-Brice Stadium; the last time Carolina won four straight at road/neutral sites was 2000-2001 (2001 Outback Bowl vs. Ohio State; 2001 regular season at Georgia, Mississippi State, Kentucky)
Give Steve Spurrier his 45th win at South Carolina, tying him with Jim Carlen for second all-time.
THIS WEEK'S OPPONENT: AUBURN The Auburn Tigers, at 12-0 overall and 8-0 in the Southeastern Conference, are ranked No. 1 in the latest BCS rankings and are No. 2 in both major national polls. Auburn is in its second season under head coach Gene Chizik, who enters this game with a 25-24 career record and a 19-5 mark at Auburn. This will be the fourth appearance for Auburn in the SEC Championship game; the Tigers fell to Tennessee in 1997 and to Florida in 2000, then defeated the Volunteers in 2004.
GAMECOCKS AND TIGERS This is the 10th all-time meeting between Auburn and South Carolina, with the Tigers holding a 7-1-1 edge, including a 2-1-1 mark in games played at neutral sites. The Tigers are also 2-0 in Columbia, and 3-0 in Auburn.
The two teams met already this season, with Auburn claiming a 35-27 victory on Sept. 25 at Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium (full recap and stats on page 43).
South Carolina's lone win in the series came on Dec. 2, 1933, a 16-14 win in Birmingham, Ala. The teams did not meet again for 63 years.
The teams met each year from 1930 to 1933, with the four games played at three different neutral sites. The 1930 game was played in Columbus, Ga.; the 1931 contest took place in Montgomery, and the games in 1932 and 1933 were played in Birmingham.
The teams have only met five times since South Carolina joined the SEC prior to the 1992 season, with Auburn winning all five contests.
This will be the second meeting between the Gamecocks and Tigers when both teams have been ranked in the national polls; the other came in the earlier meeting this season.
CAROLINA-AUBURN SERIES HISTORY
SPURRIER VS. AUBURN South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is 10-6 all-time against Auburn, including a 10-3 mark while head coach at Florida and an 0-3 record while head coach at South Carolina. His Florida Gators defeated the Tigers for the 2000 SEC Championship.
SPURRIER VS. CHIZIK This will be the second meeting between Carolina's Steve Spurrier and Auburn's Gene Chizik as head coaches; Chizik won the first meeting as Auburn defeated South Carolina 35-27 earlier this season. The coaches have, however, been on opposite sidelines before. Chizik was a graduate assistant at Clemson while Spurrier was head coach at Duke in 1988 and 1989; Spurrier's Blue Devils were 1-1 in two meetings with the Tigers. The Head Ball Coach defeated Chizik's team one other time: in 1999, Spurrier's Florida Gators defeated Central Florida 58-27 while Chizik was the Knights' defensive coordinator.
AIN'T GONNA BE NO REMATCH Don't want one. This will be the fifth time in school history that South Carolina will have faced the same team twice in once season. The first three occurrences happened in the formative years of the game of football; the other happened during World War II. Carolina is 1-3 when meeting an opponent for the second time in one season. Carolina lost twice to Charleston YMCA in 1897, then split with Bingham in 1899, winning the first meeting and losing the second. The Gamecocks swept a pair of meetings with North Carolina A&M in 1900, then tied Wake Forest in the 1945 regular season before falling to the Demon Deacons in the 1946 Gator Bowl, the first bowl game in Carolina history.
ORANGE CRUSHED South Carolina swept through the "Orange Crush" portion of its schedule with a perfect 3-0 record against Tennessee, Florida and Clemson, beating all three teams in the same season for the first time in school history. Only twice before had the Gamecocks managed a 2-1 mark in the season-ending stretch: the Gamecocks beat Tennessee and Clemson but lost to Florida in 1992, and Carolina earned victories over the Vols and Gators in 2005 before falling in the season finale to the Tigers.
GAMECOCKS VS. NUMBER 1 With the Oct. 9 win over No. 1 Alabama, the Gamecocks are now 1-4 all-time against the nation's No. 1 team. Alabama was only the second No. 1-ranked team to visit Williams-Brice Stadium, joining 2009's top-ranked Florida Gators. Carolina's three prior meetings with the nation's top-ranked squad were on the road. This week's game with Auburn, ranked No. 1 in the BCS Standings, will be Carolina's first meeting with a No. 1 team at a neutral site. The Gamecocks lost to Maryland in 1955, Florida State in 1991, and Florida in both 1996 and 2009 when those teams were tanked No. 1 in the country.
WE TYPICALLY PLAY OUTDOORS And by "typically," we mean 1,125 out of 1,126 games in the 117-year history of South Carolina football. Saturday's SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome will be just the second football game played indoors by a South Carolina team. The only other indoor game in school history came on Sept. 21, 1973, as the Gamecocks traveled to the "Eighth Wonder of the World" to face Houston in the Astrodome. The Cougars took a 27-19 victory that day, and the Gamecocks have played in the great outdoors all 438 games since.
That 1973 game against Houston served as a footnote to another historic sporting event. The night before, in the same venue, Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs squared off in the famed "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match. The Gamecock players and coaches skipped their customary pre-game movie to attend the match, and they watched along with 30,472 at the Astrodome and an estimated 50 million others on an ABC worldwide broadcast as King defeated Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, in the most-watched tennis match of all-time.
GAMECOCKS IN THE POLLS South Carolina is ranked in this week's Associated Press Poll and USA Today Coaches Poll for the 13th consecutive week. Only two other times in school history have the Gamecocks stayed in the polls for that many straight editions:
The Gamecocks appeared at No. 19 in the AP poll the week of Oct. 31, 1987, then proceeded to defeat NC State 48-0. Carolina climbed as high as No. 8 before losing the regular-season finale to No. 2 Miami, then dropping a 30-13 decision to No. 7 LSU in the Gator Bowl; Carolina finished 15th in the final poll. The Gamecocks were then ranked No. 19 in the 1988 preseason ranking and stayed in the poll nine straight weeks until a 59-0 loss at Florida State on Nov. 5, 1988. Total weeks in the rankings: 18.
After defeating Ohio State in the 2001 Outback Bowl, Carolina finished at No. 19 in the final AP poll of 2000. The Gamecocks then stayed in the rankings every week of the 2001 season, climbing as high as No. 9 in the polls and finishing at No. 13 after another defeat of the Buckeyes in Tampa. Carolina was then ranked in the first two polls of the 2002 season before a 34-21 loss at Virginia dropped them from the rankings. Total weeks in the rankings: 18.
WINNING MORE OFTEN South Carolina has now won nine games for the third time in school history (and eight or more for just the 10th time). But more impressive is the fact that the win over Clemson was the 29th in the last four seasons, which sets a school record for the best four-year stretch in history. The Gamecocks had managed four-year stretches of 28 wins on three occasions - the 1990, 2008 and 2009 senior classes experienced a 28-win career.
With the win over Florida to secure their seventh victory of the year, the Gamecocks assured themselves of posting three straight winning seasons and seven consecutive seasons of at least a .500 record. Previously, the Gamecocks went 6-5 in 2004, 7-5 in 2005, 8-5 in 2006, 6-6 in 2007, and 7-6 in both 2008 and 2009. The team has now equaled a school-record stretch from 1928-34 in which the Gamecocks had seven straight seasons at .500 or better.
GAMECOCKS AS A RANKED TEAM Under Steve Spurrier, the Gamecocks have been a ranked team heading into 25 contests. Carolina is 13-12 in those opportunities when appearing in the national rankings. In home games, Carolina is 9-4 when ranked under Spurrier, including a 6-1 mark at home over the last two seasons. The Gamecocks are 4-8 in road contests as a ranked team under Spurrier. This will be the Gamecocks' first neutral-site game as a ranked team since the 2002 Outback Bowl.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: SEPT. 25, 2010 Auburn quarterback Cam Newton rushed for 176 yards and three touchdowns and passed for two more scores, and Auburn then forced four fourth-quarter turnovers to pull off another come-from-behind victory, this one 35-27 against No. 12 South Carolina. The Tigers overcame a double-digit halftime deficit for the second straight week against a team from the Palmetto State, this time falling behind 20-7. Both of Newton's scoring passes came in the fourth quarter after fumbles by South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia. South Carolina twice drove into Auburn territory in the final minutes behind freshman backup Connor Shaw, but he was intercepted each time. Demond Washington picked off a pass that deflected off the hands of receiver Alshon Jeffery in the end zone with 33 seconds left to seal the win. The Gamecocks had no turnovers in the first three quarters and four in the final 15 minutes to waylay a bid for their first 4-0 start since 2001. There was some give and take in that regard. Earlier Auburn had lost three fumbles, and the first two set up South Carolina touchdown drives. Auburn failed to get a first down and run out the clock on three straight Newton runs, but then capitalized on one of the few balls Jeffery didn't bring down. He had eight catches for 192 yards and caught two of Garcia's three touchdown passes. Garcia went 15-of-21 passing for 235 yards, but was sacked three times and had two costly fumbles before being pulled in the fourth quarter.