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November 14, 2010
For 3 hours and 39 minutes Saturday, nothing surrounding Cam Newton was controversial.
The scene at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday was no different from so many performances from Newton earlier this season. Newton passed for 148 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 151 yards and a score as Auburn defeated Georgia 49-31. Newton's day clinched Auburn's first SEC West title since 2004, and he is the Rivals.com National Player of the Week for the fourth time this season.
Although the distractions surrounding Newton will continue into the Iron Bowl, through the SEC championship game with East champion South Carolina and perhaps beyond, Newton is having a season for the record books.
On Saturday, he became the first SEC quarterback and the seventh FBS QB to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a season. He joins a list that includes Clemson's Woodrow Dantzler, Missouri's Brad Smith, Texas' Vince Young, Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour and Nevada's Colin Kaepernick. Newton also set a career high in passing accuracy by completing 80 percent of his passes (12-of-15).
South Carolina clinched the division Saturday thanks to a career day from Lattimore. He rushed for a career-high 212 yards and three touchdowns and set a school record with 40 carries.
South Carolina led 15-7 at halftime, and the Gamecocks turned to Lattimore to ice the game in the second half. He rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries after the break.
Publicly, Oregon coach Chip Kelly dismissed any concerns about his offense after a 15-13 victory over Cal, but in private, perhaps Kelly is concerned opponents have 60 minutes of game film of a defense stifling LaMichael James, Darron Thomas and the rest of the Ducks' offense.
Cal didn't win the game, but Pendergast's defense may have turned in the best performance of any team this season. The Bears held Oregon to 162 rushing yards, 155 passing yards and just one offensive touchdown.
No defense had held Oregon to fewer than four offensive touchdowns, and Oregon hadn't scored fewer than 42 points all season.
Beyond raw numbers, Cal limited Oregon on a per-play basis. Going into the game, the Ducks averaged 6.8 yards per play. Against Cal, Oregon averaged 3.8 yards per play.