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Panthers' Thomas Davis, Cam Newton can't be in same room today

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Thomas Davis and Cam Newton can coexist on the practice field and meeting room, even though they’re apt to break into a jawing match at any time.

But don’t think about putting the Carolina Panthers' linebacker and quarterback in the same room today with a television between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

That’s when Davis’ Georgia Bulldogs and Newton’s Auburn Tigers meet in Atlanta for the SEC title and likely for the right to play in the College Football Playoff.

“We’re never in the room together when we’re playing each other," Davis said. “It’s not possible. It can’t happen. I can’t sit down at a game with him. He can’t see what I’m reacting to when I get mad and I don’t want to see the way he reacts."

The Panthers (8-3) have a big game Sunday when they face the New Orleans Saints (8-3) for first place in the NFC South at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

But there are big college games across the country on Saturday, and the emotion they evoke in an NFL locker room is almost as good as what you see on the field.

“Oh, it’s unbelievable," coach Ron Rivera said. “[College] football has got a different feel here, from having been in the Midwest and on the West Coast. With the ACC and SEC here, it carries a lot of weight."

The ACC championship between No. 1 Clemson and No. 6 Miami is being played at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte on Saturday night. That’s why the Panthers have a road game this weekend.

Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, a former star at the “U," will be paying close attention to that one.

But the Georgia-Auburn game will be of more interest to most of the Panthers simply because two of their biggest stars -- and trash-talkers -- have a stake in the game.

Newton led Auburn to the national championship after the 2010 season with a 14-0 record. He also won the Heisman Trophy that year. Davis was a star at Georgia from 2002-04. The 2002 Bulldogs ranked third in the final Associated Press poll with a 13-1 record.

Both have a lot of pride.

Both are outspoken.

Newton wore an Auburn shirt and hat to his Wednesday news conference, and brushed off a win over No. 1 Alabama a few days earlier as though he expected it. Davis wore a red Georgia shirt that said “Bulldogs Against The World" during his media availability on Thursday.

Newton currently holds bragging rights. Auburn upset then-No. 1 Georgia 40-17 on Nov. 11 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. But he has been quiet heading into the rematch on a neutral field. At least that’s how Davis sees it.

“There isn’t a whole lot he can say," Davis said. “This game is not being played at Auburn. Georgia is not going to make the mistakes they made in the first game.

“Georgia win is my prediction. Thirty-one to 17."

The prediction around the locker room is Newton and Davis will be fun to watch leading up to kickoff. But they aren’t the only Carolina players with a lot riding on the outcome of conference championships.

“We have 10 to 15 guys who their team has a chance to be in the playoffs," safety Dezmen Southward said. “It’s a beautiful thing to see everybody kind of argue and make little side bets and things like that."

Southward, a third-year player out of Wisconsin, and cornerback Zack Sanchez, a second-year player out of Oklahoma, had one of the more entertaining arguments in the locker room this week.

That their schools aren’t playing each other didn’t matter. Sanchez doesn’t believe Wisconsin (12-0), which faces Ohio State (10-2) for the Big Ten championship, deserves to be in the four-team playoff.

He doesn’t think the Badgers would stand a chance if they faced his Sooners (11-1), who face TCU (10-2).

He let Southward know it.

“They had a cupcake schedule all year," Sanchez said. “The last time this happened, they got beat down 59-0. Hopefully, it’s not that bad. Hopefully, they’re competitive in this game. I just can’t respect it."

Sanchez was referring to the 2014 Big Ten championship, when Wisconsin was pummeled by Ohio State.

“You know what," Sanchez continued in his argument with Southward. “I’m going to start praying every night we see you in the playoffs. We’re going to embarrass the s--- out of Wisconsin."

To be fair, it didn’t sound like Sanchez respected any team outside of Oklahoma, which faces TCU for the Big 12 title.

“He doesn’t," Southward said. “The humbled will be exalted and the exalted will be humbled. We have an undefeated team in a power conference. They’re doing what everyone else wants to do -- win. They can say the schedule is this, the schedule is that.

“But at the end of the day, you have to win to be in the conversation. There are a lot of teams up there that lost to teams. They didn’t."

Little arguments like this break out all the time during big college football weekends. It’s probably a good thing Davis and Newton reside on opposite ends of the locker room, although Davis insisted Newton didn’t give him a hard time after the first meeting.

“He was just excited to win the game," Davis said. “He fully didn’t expect to win that game. He was scared. That should tell you something."

Davis insisted there aren’t any of the typical bets -- wearing the other team’s colors -- between himself and Newton.

“We don’t bet in the NFL," he said. “What are you talking about? Are we still talking about Georgia-Auburn? We’ve [Panthers] got a big game this week."

On that topic, Davis and Newton can be in the same room.