Surprising Auburn facing big test

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WHO’S HOT

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, once the team's offensive coordinator, has the Tigers overachieving.    FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, once the team's offensive coordinator, has the Tigers overachieving.

Auburn. Don’t look now, but the 24th-ranked Tigers are one win away from doubling last season’s win total (three).

If Auburn is for real, it must defeat No. 7 Texas A&M on Saturday.

WHO’S NOT

Stanford. The California school was positioned to make a run at a national title, sitting at No. 5. An upset loss at Utah, though, likely eliminated the Cardinal from the BCS title game.

GAME OF THE CENTURY (POSSIBLY)

No. 5 Florida State at No. 3 Clemson on Saturday should be as good as advertised. The game features two of the nation’s top quarterbacks in the Seminoles’ Jameis Winston and the Tigers’ Tajh Boyd. If Clemson defeats a second top-five opponent this season, property will be destroyed in Death Valley.

WHERE’S THE BEEF?

In his fourth season at Georgia, Todd Grantham has headed up a defense that’s allowed 30 or more points in 18 of 47 games – more than any of the previous Bulldog defensive coordinators in the past half-century.

Here’s how he compares to six other Georgia defensive coordinators who have coached at least four seasons:

Erk Russell (1964-80): allowed 30 or more points 17 times in 190 games

Bill Lewis (1981-88): 5 times in 96 games

Richard Bell (1989-93): 12 times in 58 games

Joe Kines (1995-98): 12 times in 47 games

Brian VanGorder (2001-04): 1 time in 42 games

Willie Martinez (2005-09): 16 times in 65 games

RANKING THE BIG FOUR

1. Clemson (6-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference). If the Tigers defeat Florida State, they should have smooth sailing to the South Carolina game.

2. South Carolina (5-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference. Gamecocks back in the SEC East race, but they must survive three-game road swing.

3. Georgia (4-2, 3-1 SEC). Bulldogs are allowing 33.7 points a game this season, ranking them 105th among 123 FCS teams in scoring defense.

4. Georgia Tech (3-3, 2-2). Eight turnovers the past three games doesn’t cut it.

SATURDAY’S GAMES

• Georgia at Vanderbilt, noon, (CBS-Ch. 12)

• South Carolina at Tennessee, noon, (ESPN)

• Syracuse at Georgia Tech, 12:30 p.m. (Fox-Ch. 54)

• Florida State at Clemson, 8 (ABC-Ch. 6)

THIS WEEK’S STORYLINES

Clemson: Tigers have defeated Florida State the past five meetings in Clemson.

Georgia: If Todd Gurley returns Saturday, it’ll be a big boost for the Bulldogs.

Georgia Tech: Yellow Jackets looking to snap slide at home.

South Carolina: Gamecocks have won past three meetings against the Volunteers.

– Chris Gay, staff writer

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