11/20 15:56 CST Georgia Tech, Auburn, Gamecocks looking to wreck title hopes
Georgia Tech, Auburn, Gamecocks looking to wreck title hopes
By JOHN ZENOR
AP Sports Writer
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) --- Things haven't gone the way Auburn hoped this season.
After going from the top 10 to unranked, the Tigers have a chance to appease
restless fans: Play the spoiler and upset their biggest rival, No. 1 Alabama.
"Win this game and a lot of people kind of forget all the negative stuff that
happened this year," Auburn wide receiver Ryan Davis said Tuesday.
Ditto for South Carolina against No. 2 Clemson. Not to mention Georgia Tech
versus No. 5 Georgia .
The Crimson Tide, Bulldogs and the Tigers in Clemson are all trying to keep
their College Football Playoff hopes intact, while their in-state rivals would
love to change those holiday plans.
"That's something you can keep in the back of your mind, just knowing you can
spoil a lot of things they have going on," Georgia Tech senior quarterback
TaQuon Marshall said.
All three playoff contenders are playing at home and are heavy favorites.
Oddsmakers give Georgia Tech the best shot, installing the Yellow Jackets as
17-point underdogs. Auburn (24-1/2 points) and South Carolina (26-1/2) are even
A look at these three rivalry games and what they could mean to the underdogs:
GEORGIA TECH (7-4) at GEORGIA
The Yellow Jackets can spoil Georgia's hopes to play in its second straight
CFP. Georgia (10-1, No. 5 CFP) also needs to beat Alabama in next week's
Southeastern Conference championship game in Atlanta to move into the four-team
The Yellow Jackets have won four straight, including last week's 30-27 overtime
victory over Virginia. But the streak that is the hot topic this week is
Georgia Tech's two straight wins in Athens --- a 30-24 overtime win in 2014 and
a 28-27 thriller in 2016.
The Bulldogs were dominant in last year's 38-7 win at Georgia Tech, but the
Yellow Jackets are hoping to add to their recent success in Athens, especially
when they can spoil Georgia's national championship dream.
"Yeah, that would be a huge deal," said left guard Parker Braun. "You never
want to tear another team down, but if we beat them it's better for us, you
know what I'm saying. I think we have an opportunity to do that."
SOUTH CAROLINA (6-4) at CLEMSON
Just a few years ago, the Gamecocks had the unquestioned upper-hand on the
rivalry and in recruiting in the Palmetto State.
South Carolina won five straight games over Clemson (11-0, No. 2 CFP) from
2009-13 featuring such standouts and NFL draft picks as defensive end Jadeveon
Clowney, cornerback Stephon Gilmore and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. But it
has been the Tigers who've had the upper hand --- and in a dominant way ---
over the past four seasons.
The Tigers have won three Atlantic Coast Conference titles, played in three
College Football Playoffs and won the national championship in 2016 while the
Gamecocks program fell apart. South Carolina has gradually built things back
under third-year coach Will Muschamp, although their first trip to Clemson in
2016 was a 56-7 drubbing that stuck with players ever since.
Linebacker T.J. Brunson, the Gamecocks leading tackler, thinks Muschamp has
started infusing more talent into the program.
Brunson said South Carolina players understand the opportunity they have to end
the losing streak, derail Clemson's perfect season and spoil what looks like
another national title run for the Tigers.
"For me, it's always been a regular game every week and you try not to get
overly emotional about it," Brunson said. "But this is a big game for us ... we
can shake up the world."
AUBURN (7-4) at ALABAMA
The Tigers know all too well that even an Iron Bowl upset might not keep the
Tide (11-0, No. 1 CFP) from a national title shot. The Tigers won 26-14 last
season to earn a spot in the SEC championship game but Alabama still went on to
not only make the playoffs but win another national title.
This Auburn team is a bigger underdog after a season in which the Tigers fell
from a No. 8 ranking to out of the Top 25.
Quarterback Jarrett Stidham insists that unpredictable things can happen in
"I think every year, regardless of what the circumstances are for either team,
anything can happen in this game," Stidham said. "Rivalry games, for whatever
reason, are just like that. Ohio State-Michigan is kind of another one where
anything can happen.
"Everybody here, we're just very excited for the opportunity. I mean, we get to
play the No. 1 team in the country, on the road, everybody against you. It's
going to be a lot of fun."
AP Sports Writers Charles Odum in Atlanta and Pete Iacobelli in Columbia, South
Carolina contributed to this report.
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and