A Lot On The Line For Auburn And LSU

Coach Tommy Tuberville talks about Saturday's game against the seventh-ranked LSU Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.-–For the fourth time in five seasons the Auburn-LSU game will go a long way towards deciding the SEC Western Division winner and a berth in the SEC title game in Atlanta. With both teams in the Top 15 in the country and each with a loss, Auburn's Tommy Tuberville says that this is the game his team has been pointing to all season.

"We're getting ready to play one of our arch-rivals in LSU," Tuberville says. "We've had some great battles the last few years. This has been an interesting football game. There has been a lot happening, usually during the week of the game, fighting hurricanes and so forth. This year it looks like it's just going to be a football game. We're excited about the challenge. It will be our biggest challenge of the year. We expected that at the beginning of the year, so we're looking forward to it. We've been working towards this game for the past six or seven weeks."

On the injury front the Tigers are very healthy considering they're just over the halfway point of the season. Running back Brad Lester is the only player definitely out this week after suffering a straind groin against Arkansas. Tuberville says they hope to have him back on the practice field sometime next week.

The challenge this week for Tuberville, his staff, and team is to make sure the game is emphasized, but not at all costs. Because so many key games remain in the league with both teams still yet to face Alabama along with a trip to Athens, Ga. for Auburn still in the works, Tuberville says that in the long run this is still just another conference game no matter how much hype it gets during the week.

"Our players know this is a long season and to go undefeated in this conference is almost a miracle," Tuberville says. "It's very tough. We'll play three Top 10 teams out of our next five games. To put that on one game would be unrealistic. You win this game and you have a lot of tough games left. You lose this game and you still have an opportunity to get to Atlanta.

"You just keep fighting," he adds. "We'll take this game as we did Arkansas last week. We'll get a good gameplan together, get them to the point where they understand how to play it, and hopefully we'll go down and play a good game."

Quarterback Brandon Cox will be making his first trip to Tiger Stadium.

Currently 5-1 overall and a perfect 3-0 in SEC play, Auburn comes into the LSU game without a victory over a Division I team with a winning record in 2005. While that is a slight concern, the way the Tigers have handled the competition is a good sign this team is continuing to improve. Another sign that Auburn is playing well is that the Tigers are converting 50 percent of their third downs this season. Tuberville says that having that ability takes the pressure off an offense throughout the game.

"Our schedule has not been as difficult as some other teams around the country," Tuberville says. "Our schedule is getting ready to start now. I would hope that it would stay up there. Is it going to stay up there at 50 percent? That would probably be a record if it did, but it's good that our offense has got confidence knowing they can create third down conversions. Hopefully that will stick with us for the next five or six games."

Another big win for Auburn could possibly mean a jump back into the Top 10 for the first time since the last poll of 2004 when they finished second behind national champion USC. Tuberville says that if his team learned anything last season it's to not worry about things it can't control and just play football. So far so good this season.

"We've moved up," Tuberville says. "The respect, you've got to earn that. We obviously didn't earn it early in the season and we were forgot about for a while. I think we're moving back up, but polls are for fans to read and media to talk about. It doesn't make a difference until the very end. The BCS polls were out this week and again we're going to have more problems like we did last year. That will give people more to talk about the last three weeks."

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