There are times when you know it's not your night. South Carolina could take its pick through the game's first half.
Maybe it was Cam Newton's 62-yard completion on the second play of the game. Perhaps it was when the Gamecocks took Newton's fumble and gave it right back on an interception. For sure it could have been when, after South Carolina pulled within a touchdown right before halftime, Newton's Hail Mary two plays later found the embrace of Darvin Adams's hands.
Regardless, it pretty much was over at the half. All season Auburn was a better team in the second half, and the Tigers turned in a flawless performance after intermission to win the SEC Championship going away, 56-17.
In every way that you can measure it, Auburn was the better team. The Tigers rolled up an amazing 589 yards en route to those 56 points. They allowed the Gamecocks to move the ball, but they came up with key stops when South Carolina made it to their side of the 50-yard line.
You really can't say enough about Newton. His 335 yards passing were 90 more than his previous high against I-A competition. He kept plays alive in the pocket and weaved through the Carolina defense with ease. For all the talk about his run against LSU being his Heisman moment, and it still is probably his best single play, this was his Heisman performance. You simply can't play football any better than Newton did tonight.
For South Carolina, it just was never meant to be. They had their chances, but turnovers and missed field goals kept them from making a real game of it. And while the defense didn't help itself much in defending Newton, I don't know if anyone could have slowed him tonight.
It's on to Glendale for Auburn, as the Tigers try to extend the conference's national title streak to an unthinkable five in a row. As unlikely a prospect as winning a fifth straight crown for the SEC sounds in a vacuum, would you bet against Cam Newton?