Auburn will make its fourth appearance in the Championship since it began in 1992, while South Carolina will make its first appearance.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier coached at Florida in 1992 and went to the first SEC Championship game.
Spurrier said although several coaches didn’t support a conference championship, he thinks it helps more teams than it hurts.
“If we had one loss during the regular season and then you’re able to win the SEC Championship game, that will certainly put you in the national championship game as long as there’s not a bunch of undefeated teams out,” Spurrier said. “But to me, this is a playoff system here.”
Saturday’s game will be a rematch of the Sept. 25 game played in Auburn.
The Tigers won the game 35-27.
In five previous SEC Championship games where the game was a rematch, the winner of the previous game won again four times.
Coach Gene Chizik said even though his team has defeated the Gamecocks this season, he isn’t taking the game lightly.
“I think they’ve steadily improved, week by week, since we played last,” Chizik said. “We have our work cut out for us. We’re going to face a much-improved team, there’s no question.”
Auburn has had several close calls this season, coming from behind in eight of its 12 wins, four of those being double-digit deficits.
Senior offensive lineman Lee Ziemba said he is amazed at his team’s resiliency.
“We don’t think about how long this can go on, we just think about how blessed we are to be in the position we’re in,” Ziemba said. “We’re just going to improve this week and try to get better and see if we can’t win it.”
Offensively, both teams have break-out players this season.
The Gamecocks’ freshman tailback Marcus Lattimore has scored 19 touchdowns this season, just one shy from the SEC freshman scoring record.
Senior safety Zac Etheridge said it is tough to defend Lattimore.
“I think with our defense on the line and our front seven, stopping the run is our main focus on defense,” Etheridge said. “If he gets it started, then they have a balanced attack at running and throwing the ball, so we’ve got to find a way to make the team one-dimensional.”
Leading the offense for Auburn is junior quarterback Cam Newton.
Newton has accumulated 43 touchdowns this season, which is more than 69 FBS schools have scored this season.
Newton also leads the SEC in rushing and is the only player in the country with five 170-yard rushing games this season.
South Carolina defensive tackle Travian Robertson said having played against Newton before will be an advantage as long as the Gamecock defense doesn’t make too many mistakes.
“We see him, and we have film, and we’ve seen him play,” Robertson said. “We just have to take care of our part as far as stopping him and doing the best we can to get him down every chance we can, and just making up the mistakes we had the first game.”