"For me I looked at it as a surprise because we played more ranked teams that Oklahoma did," Rosegreen said. "The ranked teams that we played, we beat them convincingly. The teams they played they struggled with and had to come from behind and win. We kind of struggled with Tennessee, but they are a great team. They're not 9-2 for nothing. The teams that Oklahoma beat didn't have the type of records that the teams that we beat have. I just thought we would get some votes at the end of the season."
Junior Rosegreen plays with passion.
Not only did Auburn not get enough votes to play in the Orange Bowl at the end of the season, the Tigers actually lost ground to Oklahoma after wins at Alabama and against Tennessee in the SEC Championship game. Some of that obviously had to do with a supposed weakness in the Southeastern Conference this season. Despite having five teams ranked in the Top 25 and four teams with at least nine wins, some of the computers have the conference rated as low as fourth in the country, a number that is hard for Rosegreen to believe.
"That's kind of crazy," Rosegreen said of the SEC's low conference rating. "Our sixth place team is Arkansas, they almost beat their number two team in the Big 12, that's Texas. Therefore you can't really say we're the fourth-ranked conference. You're always going to have Georgia, LSU, Tennessee, Auburn, Alabama, they're always going to be ranked.
"We just always thought in our hearts that beating three of the Top 10 teams in the country, we beat LSU by one point and we beat Georgia convincingly and Tennessee in the SEC Championship, the SEC is the best conference in the country and we felt like we would have a shot to play for the national championship."
One of the reasons some of the "experts" give for Auburn being left out of the BCS was a spotty defensive performance against the Vols the second time around. After dominating them in the first half, holding UT to 39 yards of offense, the Tigers had several missed assignments on defense in the second half as running back Gerald Riggs ran wild for 184 yards on just 11 carries. Rosegreen said it was all about Auburn failing to play assignment football, which they had done all season to that point.
"Our defense is all about gap control," Rosegreen said. "When one player misfits on the defense it can go the distance. We had a couple of misfits and that's why they were able to break those long runs."
The toughest job is yet to come for Rosegreen and his fellow upperclassmen. Instead of playing for the national championship, the Tigers are instead headed for New Orleans to face the Virginia Tech Hokies in a battle of two hot teams. Auburn has won 14 consecutive games dating back to last season while Tech has won eight in a row since losing to North Carolina State. Rosegreen said getting everyone focused on the task at hand is the most important goal for this team when it reconvenes on Dec. 16.
"I think whenever we come back and practice we're going to get the young guys ready for another big challenge in Virginia Tech," Rosegreen said. "Virginia Tech is a pretty good team. They've beaten a lot of ranked teams and they almost beat USC. Basically we just have to get ready to get the young guys ready and get focused on Virginia Tech.
"You have a lot of players, especially the young players, that are upset," he added. "We're going to come back to practice and as seniors and upperclassmen we'll get their minds right for this Virginia Tech game."