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No time for Auburn to slip up now

11/9/2010

Auburn has cleared every hurdle this season.

It hasn’t always been pretty. The defense has looked vulnerable at times, and now there are the Cam Newton allegations to deal with during the most important stretch of the season.

Nobody on the Plains seems to be blinking, though, which brings us to Auburn’s oldest rival.

Georgia comes to town this Saturday in a rivalry that’s the South’s oldest and a rivalry that has produced more than a few memorable moments over the years.

For Georgia, ruining Auburn’s shot at a national championship would be at least some consolation for a season that hasn’t met anyone’s expectations in Athens.

For Auburn, these next few steps will be the hardest.

“Everybody knows as you keep winning, the stakes get higher,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik said.

And as it gets closer and closer to that final weekend of the season, winning becomes increasingly more difficult.

The Tigers (10-0, 6-0) have occupied either the No. 1 spot or the No. 2 spot in the BCS standings each of the past three weeks. There is no margin for error at this point, at least in terms of playing in the BCS National Championship Game.

With it being this late in the season, one loss would knock Auburn out of the race.

But the Tigers also know that if they keep winning, they control their own destiny.

Newton, who declined to address the cheating allegations that surfaced Tuesday from his time at Florida, also said that he’s unconcerned about what some of these allegations may or may not do to his candidacy for the Heisman Trophy.

That’s because the only candidacy that he's focused on at this point is Auburn’s for a championship.

“I’m not up here trying to impress anybody, trying to win brownie points,” Newton said. “I’m going to continue what I’ve been doing. I don’t want to think about the Heisman Trophy. My whole focus right now is trying to beat Georgia.”

Auburn and Georgia are both in the same boat in that this will be their 11th straight week without a bye. They both are also coming off easy routs over outmanned foes last week.

The Tigers remain thin in the secondary, especially with some of their injuries. This will be the best passing offense they’ve seen since the Arkansas game on Oct. 16. Auburn pulled away from Arkansas for a 65-43 win, but the Hogs passed for 428 yards and five touchdowns. Backup Tyler Wilson did most of the damage, too, as Ryan Mallett was knocked out of the game with a concussion in the first half.

Auburn is 11th in the SEC in passing defense, so it’s obvious where Georgia will try and attack the Tigers, especially with A.J. Green back in the fold.

“Georgia will make plays,” Chizik said. “So it's going to be about how our secondary responds to the next play and not letting that play beat you twice.”