The South Carolina football team's next "biggest game in school history" comes in three weeks. With all due respect to this week's game against Troy, and particularly next week's game against Clemson, the Gamecocks' season is now being measured in championships.
USC has one, the SEC's Eastern Division title, and will go for its first conference title on Dec. 4 in a rematch with Auburn in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
Ten things to think about heading into the game:
1. The Cam Newton Affair
It's possible Auburn's Heisman Trophy candidate won't play in the game. Possible, but not likely. A former Mississippi State player told a Dallas radio station that the quarterback's father requested between $100,000 and $180,000 for his son to sign at Mississippi State, and Mississippi State acknowledged it turned in information to the SEC about being approached for an extra benefit.
ESPN.com reported Mississippi State sources told it that Cam Newton indicated Auburn had provided him extra benefits to sign there, but the Tigers have not been tied to the scandal beyond that.
The NCAA is investigating, but so far Auburn has stood by its man and declared it is comfortable with his eligibility.
Will that last another three weeks?
2. The Cam Newton Effect
If Newton does play, look out Gamecocks. He has not slowed since he rushed for 176 yards, threw for 158 and was a part of five touchdowns in the Tigers' 35-27 win against USC on Sept. 25 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Newton is first in the SEC and eighth in the nation in rushing with 114.6 yards per game.
He is first in the SEC and second in the nation in passer rating. He has 19 passing touchdowns, 15 rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown. He is responsible for more points per game (21.3) than all but one player in the country.
2. Tame Tigers
Auburn's defense has received some attention recently for the, um, enthusiasm with which it plays. Georgia was unhappy with several questionable hits on quarterback Aaron Murray. But the Tigers' defense hasn't been a force. It is eighth in the SEC in scoring defense and total defense. USC rolled up 384 yards in the first meeting. More recently, Arkansas gained 566 and Ole Miss had 407 against Auburn.
4. The Lattimore difference
Marcus Lattimore gained 33 yards on 14 carries the last time these teams met. If he has that kind of performance again, USC won't have much of a chance.
But it's likely he will fare better. USC is a Lattimore-first offense at this point. In two of the past three games, he has topped 180 rushing yards. In the other game, he was injured and shelved early in a loss.
5. USC's confidence
Entering the first meeting with Auburn, the Gamecocks were wondering if they could win an SEC road game -- or a big conference game in any location, for that matter. They have answered both questions and are coming off the biggest SEC win in school history, which was on the road.
If they can continue this momentum against Troy and Clemson, they should enter the title game with their confidence at an all-time high.
6. Dome Sweet Dome
The SEC championship game will be the first time USC plays in a dome since a 1973 game against Houston in the Astrodome. The Gamecocks lost 27-19.
The night before, the team attended the "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, according to Tom Price's book "Tales from the Gamecocks Roost." That is believed to be the only dome game in school history.
7. Turnover Battle
It's hard to believe USC played Auburn as closely as it did despite turning the ball over four times in the fourth quarter and losing the turnover battle 4-2.
Stephen Garcia fumbled twice in the fourth quarter to help the Tigers rally and was replaced by Connor Shaw, who threw two interceptions to seal the Auburn victory. If the Gamecocks can reverse the turnover numbers, they'll have a shot in Atlanta.
8. Alshon's arrival
Alshon Jeffery had eight catches for a career-high 192 yards against the Tigers but couldn't come down with the game's final pass in the end zone to give USC a chance to tie the game.
He vowed afterward to make the catch the next time such an opportunity presented itself, but he hasn't had another chance because the last-gasp pass against Kentucky was thrown to Lamar Scruggs.
Jeffery has at least 87 receiving yards in all but one game this season and leads the SEC with 114.9 receiving yards per game.
9. Auburn's new to this, too
A lot will be made during the week of the game about this being USC's first trip to the SEC championship game, but the Tigers have no more practical experience than the Gamecocks.
No member of the Auburn team has played in this game. Coach Gene Chizik was the Tigers' defensive coordinator the last time Auburn went to the game, in 2004. The Tigers also played in the title game in 1997 and 2000.
10. Spoiler alert
What affect will the championship game have on the Clemson game in two weeks? Last year, the roles were reversed when the Tigers were looking ahead to a conference title game, and the Gamecocks spoiled their Thanksgiving with a 34-17 win. This year, the Tigers are out of the ACC hunt, so all they have left is beating USC.