SEC Madness: 2008 Florida vs 2010 Auburn

In Game Two of the SEC Madness Tournament, we look at the match-up between the 2008 Florida Gators and the 2010 Auburn Tigers football teams. Both of these teams were National Champions and it would be a very entertaining game to watch. Here are the stats and information to compare each team:

2008 FLORIDA SCHEDULE2010 AUBURN SCHEDULE
HawaiiW 56-10Arkansas St.W 52-26
Miami-FLW 26-3Miss StataW 17-14
TenneseeW 30-6ClemsonW 27-24
Ole MIssL 31-30#12 South CarolinaW 35-27
ArkansasW 38-7ULMW 52-3
#3 LSUW 51-21KentuckyW 37-34
KentuckyW 63-5#12 ArkansasW 65-43
#8 GeorgiaW 49-10LSUW 24-17
VanderbiltW 42-14Ole MissW 51-31
#23 South CarolinaW 56-6UT ChattanoogaW 62-24
The CitadelW 70-19GeorgiaW 49-31
#24 Florida StateW 45-15#9 AlabamaW 28-27
SECCG #1 AlabamaW 31-20SECCG #18 South CarolinaW 56-17
BCSNCG #1 OklahomaW 24-14BCSNCG #2 OregonW 22-19

2010 Auburn Tigers vs 2008 Florida Gators

CATEGORY2008 FLORIDA2010 AUBURNEDGE
Strength of ScheduleNational: 2
SEC: 1

6 Ranked opponents
4 Top Ten opponents
11 Opponents played in bowl games

National: 3
SEC: 2

6 Ranked opponents
3 Top Ten opponents
10 opponents played in bowl games

2010 Auburn Football vs 2008 Florida Gators
Florida Passing Offense v. Auburn Passing DefensePass Offense Rank
National: 61
SEC: 5

Passing Efficiency
National: 4
SEC: 1

Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow lead an incredibly efficient passing game for the Gators. Tebow completed 192-298 passes for 2746 yards, 30 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions.

Tebow had several talented receivers to throw to, and defenses were forced to pick their poison. Dynamic speedster Percy Harvin hauled in 40 catches for 644 yards and 7 td’s. Senior reciever Louis Murphy had 38 catches for 655 yards and 7 td’s. Athletic tight end Aaron Hernandez also played a big role. He contributed 34 catches, 381 yards, and 5 td’s.

Deonte Thompson, Riley Cooper, and David Nelson combined to catch 48 passes and 11 touchdowns.

Nine different Gator receivers caught touchdown passes on the season.

Pass Defense Rank
National: 108
SEC: 12

Pass Efficiency Defense
National: 76
SEC: 9

Auburn’s biggest weakness in 2010 was their pass defense. The Tigers allowed 3630 yards on the year for an average of 259 yards per game; including 250 yards per game in SEC contests. They also allowed 25 passing touchdowns on the season and only intercepted 12 passes.

The Tigers relied on an unyielding pass rush from Nick Fairley and Antoine Carter to rattle opposing QB’s. Fairley, an All-American defensive tackle, lead the SEC in sacks with 11.5.

Safety Zac Etheridge headed up the Tigers secondary recording 3 interceptions and 69 tackles. Corner Desmond Washington recorded 3 interceptions and 55 tackles. Linebacker Josh Bynes recorded 3 interceptions as well.

2010 Auburn Football vs 2008 Florida Gators
Florida Rushing Offense v. Auburn Rushing DefenseRushing Offense
National: 10
SEC: 1

The Gators balanced spread offense rushing attack could strike from anywhere on the field. The Gators averaged an impressive 231 yards rushing per game. Tim Tebow, who could always get the big yards for the Gators on third down, lead the way with 673 yards rushing and 12 td’s. The bruising fullback type runner had the uncanny ability to pick up yards and first downs even when defenses knew what was coming.

Percy Harvin had 660 yards and 10 td’s on just 70 carries for a whopping 9.4 yards per carry.

The Gators also used a trio of running backs: Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps, and Emmanuel Moody. The trio combined for 1674 yards and 12 td’s.

The solid offensive line opening the holes for the running backs included All-SEC performers Phil Trautwein and Mike Pouncey.

Rushing Defense
National: 9
SEC: 1

Auburn had a smothering run defense that played its best against the best competition. The Tigers held opponents to 109 yards rushing per game and 3.4 yards per carry. In the Iron Bowl, Auburn held Alabama’s star studded backfield to only 69 yards rushing.

In the BCS title game, Auburn stymied Oregon’s potent spread option attack. They held the Ducks to only 75 yards rushing on 32 carries.

Auburn’s menacing front seven included three All-SEC performers. Nick Fairley recorded 60 tackles and 24 tackles for loss. Antoine Carter had 33 stops and 11 tackles for loss. Linebacker Josh Bynes lead the Tigers with 73 tackles

EVEN
Auburn Passing Offense v. Florida Passing DefensePass Defense Rank
National: 20
SEC: 6

Pass Efficiency Defense
National: 3
SEC: 1

Florida’s defense was able to stifle opponents passing games with a talented group of playmakers in the secondary and an effective pass rush. The Gators held opponents to 179.8 yards per game passing, 12 passing td’s, and recorded 26 interceptions.

In the secondary, strong safety Ahmad Black headed up the unit with 7 interceptions, 59 tackles, and two touchdowns. Free safety Major Wright had 4 int’s, 66 tackles, and a td. Starting cornerback Joe Haden had 3 interceptions and 87 tackles. Janoris Jenkins also contributed 3 interception.

Linebacker Brandon Spikes recorded 4 picks and 2 td’s, proving to be a terror dropping into coverage.

Carlos Dunlap and Jermaine Cunningham provided the pressure up front for the Gators, combining to record 15.5 sacks. The Gators had 34 sacks on the season.

Pass Offense Rank
National: 66
SEC: 7

Pass Efficiency
National: 1
SEC: 1

Heisman Trophy winning QB Cam Newton, known more for his running ability, could also do a lot of damage through the air. Newton completed 66% of his passes for 2854 yards, 30 td’s and only 7 interceptions. Even more impressively, Newton averaged 10 yards per attempt and 15 yards per completion.

Auburn’s big play receiver was Darvin Adams who had 52 catches for 963 yards and 7 td’s. Adams, a junior, averaged 18.5 yards per reception.

Senior receiver Terrell Zachery added 44 receptions for 633 yards and 4 td’s.

Auburn’s tight ends also made a significant impact, especially in the red zone. Emory Blake had 32 catches, 526 yards, and 8 touchdowns. Philip Lutzenkirchen had 5 touchdown catches on only 15 catches.

2010 Auburn Football vs 2008 Florida Gators
Auburn Rushing Offense v. Florida Rushing DefenseRushing Defense Rank
National: 15
SEC: 4

Florida held opponents to 105 yards per game and 3.3 yards per carry.

Florida’s front seven was spearheaded by All-American LB Brandon Spikes, who lead the team with 93 tackles. Spikes provided leadership and a mean streak for the Gators defense.

Jermaine Cunningham and Carlos Dunlap provided playmaking ability on the defensive line combining to record 91 tackles and 23.5 tackles for loss.

Rushing Offense Rank
National: 5
SEC: 1

The Tigers boasted the best running QB of this generation, two excellent running backs, and a stellar offensive line. They averaged a dominating 285 yards per game on the ground.

Cam Newton’s running ability kept SEC defensive coordinators awake at night. Even when plays were well defended, Newton could pick up first down yardage with his incredible runs and ability to escape outside the pocket. Newton was the Tigers leading rusher with 1473 yards and 20 td’s.

Heralded freshman running back Michael Dyer had 1093 yards, 5 td’s, and averaged over 6 yards per carry. Dyer stepped up big with 143 yards and a td against Oregon in the title game.

Onterio McCalebb averaged an eye catching 8.5 yards per carry on 95 carries. He totaled 810 yards and 9 td’s, including a 70 yard game winning scamper against LSU.

2010 Auburn Football vs 2008 Florida Gators
Scoring OffenseNational: 4
SEC: 1

Florida averaged 43.6 points per game.

National : 7
SEC: 1

Auburn averaged 41.2 points per game.

EVEN
Scoring DefenseNational: 4
SEC: 1

Florida allowed an average of 12.9 points per game.

In 9 SEC games the Gators allowed an average of 13.3 points per game.

National: 53
SEC: 8

Auburn allowed an average of 24 points per game.

In 9 SEC games the Tigers allowed an average of 26.7 points per game.

2010 Auburn Football vs 2008 Florida Gators
Turnover MarginNational: 2
SEC: 1

35 turnovers gained

13 turnovers lost

1.57 turnover margin

National: 33
SEC: 5

22 turnovers gained

17 turnovers lost

.36 turnover margin.

2010 Auburn Football vs 2008 Florida Gators
Special TeamsNet Punting- SEC: 1

Chas Henry: 43.4 yards per punt

Punt Returns- SEC: 3

Brandon James: 13.78 yards per return and 2 td’s.

Kickoff Returns- SEC: 6

Brandon James: 23 yards per return

Field Goals
National: 71
SEC: 9

Jonathan Phillips (12-13)

Net Punting- SEC: 12

Ryan Shoemaker: 37.9 yards per punt

Punt Returns- SEC: 10

Quindarius Carr: 5.68 yards per return.

Kickoff returns- SEC: 4

Desmond Washington: 24.3 yards per return and 1 td.

Field Goals
National: 47
SEC: 5

Wes Byrum (17-22)

2010 Auburn Football vs 2008 Florida Gators
Third & Fourth Down Conversion RatesThird Down
National: 7

Florida converted 51% of third downs.

Fourth Down
National: 11

Florida converted 11 out of 16 fourth down attempts for a 68% conversion rate.

Third Down
National: 3

Auburn converted 53% of third down attempts.

Fourth Down
National: 28

The Tigers did not attempt many fourth downs, but they did convert 5 of 8 fourth downs for a 62% conversion rate.

EVEN
PenaltiesNational: 105
Florida was penalized 117 times for 839 yards.
National: 46
Auburn was penalized 79 times for 745 yards.
2010 Auburn Football vs 2008 Florida Gators
CoachingHead coach: Urban Meyer

Defensive Coordinator: Charlie Strong

Offensive Coordinator: Dan Mullen

Head coach: Gene Chizik won the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award, Home Depot Coach of the Year, Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year

Defensive Coordinator: Ted Roof

Offensive Coordinator: Gus Malzahn won the Broyles Award for being the nation’s top assistant coach.

2010 Auburn Football vs 2008 Florida Gators
Star PlayersTim Tebow: Heisman Trophy (2007), Maxwell Award, Manning Award, SEC Offensive Player of the Year

Brandon Spikes: First Team All American

Percy Harvin: Second Team All American

ALL SEC 1st Team: Tebow, Harvin, Spikes, Phil Trautwein, Brandon James

ALL SEC 2nd Team: Jermaine Cunningham, Carlos Dunlap, Joe Haden, Ahmad Black, Mike Pouncey, Chas Henry

Cam Newton: Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Davey O’brien Award, Manning Award, SEC Offensive Player of the Year, AP Player of the Year

Nick Fairley: Lombardi Award, 1st Team All American

Lee Zeimba: Jacobs Trophy

All SEC 1st Team: Newton, Fairley, Zeimba, Ryan Pugh

All SEC 2nd Team: Byron Isom, Antoine Carter, Josh Bynes

2010 Auburn Football vs 2008 Florida Gators
Statement GameGeorgia:
The Bulldogs had defeated the Gators in 2007, and did not do so in a classy manner. Georgia’s entire team celebrated in the endzone after a Knowshon Moreno touchdown, enraging Florida fans and players alike. The Gators were out for revenge in 2008. 8th ranked Georgia, hyped as a preseason national championship contender, never knew what hit them until it was way too late. Tim Tebow took it upon himself to make sure that the 2007 Cocktail Party would not be repeated. Tebow rushed for three touchdowns and passed for two more as the Gators pummeled the Bulldogs 49-10.
Alabama:
The Tide jumped out to a 24-0 lead over Auburn in the first half of the Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa. Just when it looked like the Tigers undefeated season was down the drain, Cam Newton and Auburn did what they had done all season; found a way to win. Newton absolutely took over the game, throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for another as Auburn completed the biggest comeback in school history.
EVEN
Clutch Play of the YearLeading Oklahoma 17-14 in the fourth quarter of the BCS Championship game, the Sooners had moved the ball to midfield. Oklahoma QB Sam Bradfrod dropped back and threw a deep ball to reciever Juaquin Iglesias. The ball touched Iglesias’ hands, but Gators defensive back Ahmad Black ripped it right out of his hands for an amazing interception. As a result of the interception, Florida’s offense scored a touchdown and iced the National Championship.Down 24-0 against Alabama, Mark Ingram looked like he was headed towards the end zone to give the Tide a 31-0 lead. Auburn defensive end Antoine Carter would have nothing of it. Chasing from behind, Carter punched the ball out of Ingram’s grasp. The ball rolled parallel to the sideline all the way to the end zone and the Tigers recovered for a touchback. This was the beginning of the comeback for Auburn, and a clutch play that could be described as a microcosm of their season.2010 Auburn Football vs 2008 Florida Gators
Intangibles & The
“It Factor”
2008 Florida had a strong foundation of leadership and team unity. The Gators were lead by one of the most vocal and passionate quarterbacks to ever play the position, Tim Tebow. After a loss at home to Ole Miss in the fourth game of the season, Tim Tebow made a now legendary speech known as “the promise.” After the speech, Tebow and the refuse to lose Gators reeled off ten straight wins, beating every opponent by ten or more points.

Florida played with passion, focus, determination, and swagger. The idea of playing the intimidating Gators struck fear into the hearts of opponents. The Gators certainly had the “it factor.”

Part of having the “it factor” is being able to pull out victories no matter the circumstances. Auburn demonstrated this ability all season making clutch play after clutch play. No matter how much the Tigers trailed by, Cam Newton always had that look in his eye that let you know that Auburn would somehow pull it off. Auburn pulled off huge come from behind victories against Clemson and Alabama. They also pulled out close victories over Mississippi State, South Carolina, Kentucky, and LSU.

Some people would point to playing close games as a weakness in their body of work. However, I look at it as a statement of how great of a team the Tigers were. The Tigers may not have been as deep or talented as other national champions, but great teams are defined by wins, not NFL draft picks; and all Auburn did was win. The Tigers never stumbled en route to an undefeated BCS Title. Cam Newton and 2010 Auburn epitomize the “it factor.”

2010 Auburn Football vs 2008 Florida Gators

2008 Florida Gators Football 2010 Auburn Tigers

Analysis

This would be a match-up for the ages. The quarterbacks and dynamic offenses would garner all the headlines, but the defenses will decide this game.

Florida strikes through the air early and often. Tebow throws a pair of touchdown passes to Percy Harvin to build an early 14-0 lead. Auburn stumbles through the first half, punting three times and throwing an interception in the red zone. The Gators speedy defense keys in on stopping the Auburn running game, sometimes putting eight men in the box. They can get away with this due to their ability to play man coverage effectively in the secondary. Auburn is able to get some big plays, but is unable to mount a consistent drive. 17-3 Gators at the half.

After half-time adjustments, Auburn is able to slow down the Gators aerial assault a bit by bringing the heat up front. Nick Fairley picks up a huge sack on third down to stop the Gators first drive. Auburn is also able to get the ball rolling some on offense. The Tigers establish the ground game, as Newton and Dyer each rush for td’s in the third quarter. At the end of the quarter the Gators lead 20-17.

The Gators adjust their protection packages, and once again open it up through the air. Tebow marches the Gators down the field, capping it off with a jump pass to TE Aaron Hernandez for a touchdown. This stretches the Gators lead to 27-17. Looking unfazed, Newton responds, methodically driving it down the field for the Tigers. On an 8 play drive, the Tigers run it 7 times for 62 yards. Onterio McCalebb punches it into the end zone to cut the deficit to 3 with just under 4 minutes to go.

On the ensuing kickoff, Brandon James returns the ball out to midfield, giving the Gators excellent field position. After the Gators pick up a first down, the Tigers are forced to use their final two timeouts. The Tigers defense must hold the Gators this set of downs in order to get the ball back. On 3rd and 1 from the 30 yard line, Tebow runs a QB draw to pick up the game sealing first down. The Gators are able to kneel out the clock, winning the game 27-24. The game ends with comeback specialist Cam Newton standing on the sideline.

Conclusion

Auburn and Florida each had explosive offenses, both running and passing the football. I think where the difference lies is simply on defense. Auburn’s defense allowed nearly twice as many points per game, 24, as the Gators defense, 13. Both teams had rigorous run stopping defenses, but Auburn’s pass defense was porous. The Gators would be able to exploit the Tigers through the air, and their running game would open up as a result. Auburn had the best offensive player, Newton, and the best defensive player, Fairley. Overall though, the Gators had more team speed, depth, and talent.

Auburn certainly had an uncanny ability to win games no matter the circumstances. It is difficult to pick against an undefeated SEC Champion. Nevertheless, Florida also displayed a refuse to lose attitude after the Ole Miss game. Florida absolutely dominated the competition for the final ten games of the season, and was very good and consistent in every aspect of the game. In the end, Florida prevails. 2008 Florida moves on to play 2009 Alabama in the Final Four of the SEC Madness Tournament.

WINNER: 2008 FLORIDA GATORS

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