The talk this week about Auburn football should have been how Auburn needs to beat either Georgia or Alabama to secure a bid in the SEC Championship game – their first appearance since 2004. Instead, the talk has been all about Auburn QB Cam Newton and it’s not positive. Newton is facing allegations of recruiting improprieties and academic cheating. It’s hard, with Newton, to know what to believe. ESPN and the New York Times reported a former Mississippi State player, John Bond, said someone claiming to represent the family asked the school for $180,000 to procure Newton’s services. Foxsports.com reached back into Newton’s past, at Florida, and reported he cheated three times on tests and that, along with a computer theft incident, was the reason he transferred to a junior college in Texas. There was also a report Tuesday that the FBI wanted to interview Bond. ESPN came back Wednesday with a report that Newton may have chosen Auburn over Mississippi State because the payout was better.
Of course, no one has produced evidence Newton got paid by anyone, and Auburn has no plans to remove him from the lineup. Auburn head coach Gene Chizik described all allegations against Newton as “pure garbage” and stated that Newton is still his starting quarterback. But of course where there is smoke there is usually fire. For sure, this will impact his Heisman chances with voters as they do not want the hardware returned to them like they had earlier this year thanks to Mr. Reggie Bush.
Georgia on the other hand has had a disappointing season. Player suspensions, inexperience quarterback, and new defensive scheme has all played into Georgia’s .500 record. Some in Bulldog Nation even wanted a coaching change — and we are not talking about replacing just the offensive coordinator. Both Georgia and Auburn have defenses that struggle at times giving up big plays. The difference of course is Newton. Newton has accounted for 34 TDs (19 passing, 15 rushing). He’s the 4th leading rusher in college football. On a side note, Richt admitted this week that he heavily recruited Newton especially since Newton was from the state of Georgia. Oddly, Right targeted him as a tight end and had no plans to make him a QB.
On the other side of the ball, Georgia’s playmaker is WR A.J. Green. Green sat out the first four games of the season while serving a suspension, but he has already taken over the team lead in receptions, receiving yards , and touchdowns. He is the best receiver in the SEC and needs to help out his freshman quarterback in one of the biggest games of the season. At times during the loss to Florida, Murray did not seek out Green who had favorable one-on-one match ups.
Georgia is 1-4 this year away from Sanford Stadium. In each of their 5 losses this season, the opposing team scored first. Georgia needs to score early because this game will be a shootout. Georgia cannot afford to play catch up with Auburn’s explosive rushing attack. All eyes will be on Newton to see how he responds with all the swirling allegations. Auburn needs a win to keep it’s national championship hope alive. But Georgia would love to be the spoilers and add another chapter to the oldest rivalry in the south.
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Written by Bob Ballard