Thompson And Tigers Enjoying The Moment

Defensive lineman Josh Thompson talks about last Saturday's win over Alabama and the intensity of the rivalry.

Auburn, Ala.—-Josh Thompson has played in rivalry games before. In high school there were several teams that Statesboro, Ga., High considered rivals. This season Auburn had already played both LSU and Georgia, but nothing compares to Auburn's game with Alabama.

Known as the Iron Bowl, the game is a different breed of contest. Pitting family against family and friend against friend, the game is more than just about football. Thompson says he never understood just how big the game was until he played in it for the first time on Saturday.

"I had never felt like how it was," Thompson says. "Just coming in with everybody hating each other, coming into an atmosphere where it's hostile all the time. Usually it's hostile, but not quite like this. It's just a good feeling. It will pump you up quick."

Thompson makes a stop earlier in the year against Mississippi State.

Coming into the game Alabama led the league in rushing offense, averaging around 225 yards on the ground per game. Behind the blocking of linemen Wesley Britt and Evan Mathis, running back Kenneth Darby had carried the load for Alabama and was already over 1,000 yards. Saturday was a different story though as the Crimson Tide ran for just 50 yards in the loss, something that made Auburn's defense very proud.

"We looked at them on film and they were blowing other defenses off the ball," Thompson says. "We just clogged it up and had a good night on the D front. It was a total team effort. We just went out there and played our hearts out. We played as hard as we could and it worked out for the best."

Things got off to a rocky start for the Tigers as Alabama took the opening kickoff and moved it down the field for a field goal to get on the board first. Before the half was done Alabama had tacked on another field goal and if not for an Auburn interception at the goal line, could have taken a commanding lead into intermission. Thompson says only being down six was a huge relief for the Tigers and gave them confidence that the second half would be different.

"We knew we would click and it happened for us," Thompson says. "Just being able to keep them down to six points in the first half was real big for our team. It gave us confidence just to come out in the second half and do the same thing."

Ranked near the top of the SEC and national defensive statistics all season, Auburn's unit got very little attention last week heading into the Iron Bowl. Instead of talking about a group that had given up just one rushing touchdown on the season, Alabama's defense got the majority of the attention. Thompson says the Tigers used that as motivation heading into the game.

"That's all we heard all week, how good their defense was and how good their running back was," Thompson says. "We just used that as a big key to our defense as motivation and went out there and proved it. We proved that we had the better defense that day for sure."

Auburn now prepares for the SEC Championship Game showdown against Tennessee in two weeks at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Undefeated and on the outside looking in for a possible national championship berth in the Orange Bowl, Thompson says just being undefeated at this point in the season is more than he could have ever hoped for before the year started and he's looking forward to finishing his redshirt freshman season on a high note.

"It's big time," Thompson says. "Being 11-0 doesn't happen to many teams ever. I'm still just feeling it and can't believe it really. It's just big for us and big for our program. I know how big this is. It's hard to go 11-0 in high school and a big college team going 11-0, I'm just very appreciative of all the guys' efforts."

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