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The Friday Tailgate. It's Not Gonna Be Free This Time.

Lost in the uproar over Cam Newton's alleged academic shenanigans and financial statements has been the fact that there's actually a football game being played this Saturday in Auburn. Gene Chizik says that Cameron Newton will be playing in it.

If that's the case, I am very pessimistic about the outcome. As much trouble as Todd Grantham's defense had stopping Mississippi State's Chris Relf in short yardage situations, I simply cannot comprehend them stopping Cam Newton when it's absolutely necessary.

That being said, I can envision a scenario in which the Bulldogs prevail. It involves three components. First, and this probably goes without saying, we will have to score a lot of points on the Auburn defense. That's not so far-fetched, as the Tigers have given up 30 or more points in 4 out of 6 SEC contests this season. And they haven't really been progressing. Their best defensive effort in conference was their first one (a 17-14 victory over Mississippi State). Auburn gave up 25 points per game in their first 3 SEC contests, and 30.3 in their last 3.

The problem of course is that even when Auburn's offense has been sluggish it has still been the fastest car on the road. At least so long as the highway doesn't lead to Oregon. But I digress. The point is that Auburn will be a threat to wake up and score 21 more points right up until the final horn sounds. No lead is going to be safe.

Second, we need for this week's events to have affected Cam Newton. I can hardly see how they couldn't. The F.B.I. is interviewing people, his father is lawyered up and not talking, and Gene Chizik is giving impassioned defensive speeches. If Newton is focused and on his game, I don't think we have an answer for him. However if Cam Newton has spent the past week preparing for business as usual, he has more mental fortitude than any young man of that age that I have ever seen. He has more mental fortitude than me. My guess is that Cam Newton will need some time to get into his game on Saturday. If we can jump on top before he gets going, we may just be able to hang on. Assuming we can tackle effectively, but let's not even start on that subject.

Finally, as a corollary to that second point, we need the Auburn offense as a whole out of synch. The Auburn attack, like all offenses, relies on rhythym. And that rhythym starts with Cameron Newton. If he's out of synch, the whole operation is out of synch. And while Onterio McCalebb and Michael Dyer are fine tailbacks, Darvin Adams and Terrell Zachery are dangerous receivers, and Ryan Pugh is a legitimate threat to break someone's kneecaps, Newton's the show.

And as for the question of the day, yes, I still assume Newton is playing tomorrow. Because, as the expression goes, if you're going to the chair you might as well go ahead and kill somebody. If Cameron Newton is ineligible, it appears that he was just as ineligible in September. I am assuming that Auburn officials either sincerely believe that Cameron Newton is eligible to participate in intercollegiate athletics, or that they have plausible deniability regarding his ineligibility. Newton gives Auburn their best chance to beat everybody left on their schedule, and Jay Jacobs is not going to risk pulling Newton and sustaining a loss unless he has smoking gun, irrefutable evidence that Cam Newton was not an amateur athlete. Is there a risk involved in that? Certainly. But it's not like the Auburn athletic department is historically averse to risk taking. They hired Gene Chizik for pete's sake. Auburn has a lot invested in their national championship run at this point. They're already in for a penny, they might as well be in for a pound, right?

Money. It's a gas:

Don't forget that the Hoop 'Dawgs kick things off tonight at the Stege which, if you haven't been by to see the ongoing renovations, is looking nice. The game is allegedly available on CSS if you have it.

Until tomorrow, remember that when you accept less than what the market will bear for your services, the ghost of Adam Smith kicks a puppy. And . . .

Go 'Dawgs!!!