Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Auburn is 30 minutes away from the BCS National Championship Game, up 28-14 on South Carolina at halftime of the SEC Championship game. But if the second 30 minutes are half as back-and-forth as the first, the Tigers will still have an awful lot of work to do to earn their trip to Glendale.
But they'll at least have momentum on their side after Cam Newton' s half-ending Hail Mary was batted and then caught by Darvin Adams in the end zone:
That play answered what had looked like a game-changing touchdown drive by Carolina, one capped by Stephen Garcia hitting Alshon Jeffrey on a one-yard slant to bring Carolina within 21-14 with 16 seconds left before the break. With the Gamecocks getting the ball first in the second half, the underdogs looked like they had recovered from a disastrous defensive first quarter that saw Newton account for three touchdowns as the Tigers racked up more than 200 yards in the first period alone.
One of those touchdowns was this 54-yarder to Adams:
But Adams also played a large role in letting Carolina off the mat, dropping a certain third-down conversion and later a touchdown pass Newton had floated in with precision. But he wasn't alone in making mistakes for the Tigers: Newton missed multiple open receivers, a Phillip Lutzenkirchen holding call negated a 3rd-and-1 inside the Carolina 5, and Wes Byrum missed a 36-yard field goal. The Tigers have been by far the dominant team on the stat sheet --- outgaining the Gamecocks 348 yards to 196 -- but as they learned themselves after coming back against an Alabama team that allowed missed first-half opportunities to become a huge second-half letdown, that didn't matter much with the boot never applied to the Gamecocks' throat.
The Hail Mary might change things. (At the very least, it redeemed Adams, who finished the half with an incredible 7 receptions for 215 yards and the pair of scores.) But unless they administer the knockout blow, they might still need a little more magic to seal their bid to Glendale.