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(THROWBACK) Game Preview – Auburn vs Clemson

Our throwback 2010 series continues with Clemson week. Auburn escaped Starkville with a win, and while it was closer than we expected, it was still a cover. Now College Gameday comes to our citaaayy for a date with Cousin Clem.

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Are you ready for a little zing in yer zang zang? Because that’s what we’re going to get tonight when the city of Auburn gets taken over by Tigers wearing a slightly different hue.

Clemson comes to town for game number three, and this one’s got the feel of a matchup between an LSU or an Alabama instead of the perennial underachievers from the ACC. In case you haven’t noticed, town is filled with purple, and traffic’s been a nightmare. The Auburn folks have been encouraged to wear navy tonight, and it should provide a strong contrast to the Clemson orange.

After two games, Auburn’s 2-0, but there’s cause for concern after the win over Mississippi State. The Tigers escaped late, getting a bit of luck from a dropped pass on the Bulldogs’ final drive to take a 17-14 victory. The offense started strong, scoring two early touchdowns, but got just a field goal over the final two-thirds of the contest. MSU may be one of the best defenses we see all season, but Auburn does need to improve.

For the Tigers defensively, the revelation of Nick Fairley was a welcome sight, as he finished with multiple sacks and an interception from the middle of the defensive line, and Auburn limited the Bulldogs to just 246 total yards. We’ll need more of that tonight against a Clemson team that wants to show that the ACC can hold its own against the SEC.

Clemson’s also led by Dabo Swinney, who won’t need much motivation with the way he swept into the head coaching job vacated by Tommy Bowden. The former Bama player will visit Jordan-Hare with a special chip on his shoulder tonight. He’s got a division title in his first full season as head coach, but that doesn’t mean much in a fairly weak conference.

Earlier this week, Gene Chizik gathered the students on campus and got us pumped up.

One thing’s for sure, we’ve got the attention we need in Chizik’s second year. National TV audience for a night game, College Gameday in attendance, and a chance to do something really special if we can win the next couple of games over the state of South Carolina.

On the field tonight, I wonder what we’re going to see from Gus Malzahn and the offense. Against Arkansas State, Cam Newton went wild, accounting for five touchdowns, including a couple of designed runs. They tried to do more with him in that style of play last week, but MSU shut it down for just 70 yards on 18 carries. Auburn ran for 190 yards but it took 46 carries. We only really saw one big play as well, with the Emory Blake touchdown early on. Auburn will likely need 3-4 highlight plays tonight, but the Clemson secondary has some high talent with Deandre McDaniel in the back end, and Cam Newton will need help watching Da’Quan Bowers at defensive end when he goes back to pass.

Kyle Parker does some nice work for Clemson offensively, as well. The sophomore quarterback may have had his phone number go around Auburn’s campus this week, but getting mean texts probably won’t rattle him after leading his team to a division title last year as a freshman. His big issue is that he can be a little turnover prone, since he threw multiple picks in four different games last season. If Auburn can grab two turnovers tonight, it’ll go a long way into getting the good Tigers a victory.

This two-game stretch coming up may be Auburn’s toughest stretch over the first half of the season, and tonight should be a good indicator of where the Tigers can rise given the attention on this game. Let’s not ruin the hype, time to get a win and improve to 3-0. War Eagle!

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