While every game is equally important in the eyes of the BCS and the SEC race, rivalry games against Georgia and Alabama are the most anticipated of the season every year for Auburn players. Coach Tommy Tuberville says that the next two weeks are both the easiest and toughest for a coach at Auburn.
"Last week is tougher as a coach than this week is," Tuberville says. "These two our players look forward to. There are so many guys that have relationships with players on the other teams. I'm not going to say it's a lot of fun for the coaches because you prepare for it and all of the sudden it's on top of you. You try not to think about these two games coming up. You think about them a little bit and all of the sudden the Kentucky game is over and it's here.
"We've got 13 days and both of them will be over with. That's something we work for year round. Our players are into it a lot more. There was a lot more talk in the senior meeting. I think the younger guys will learn a lot from this week and how our older guys prepare."
Tuberville has been around both series since the 1999 season when he came to Auburn from Ole Miss. That's not the case with offensive coordinator Al Borges. In just his second season the California native says that it didn't take him long to see the difference when games 10 and 11 come on the schedule.
"You can tell right away the intensity is turned up 10 notches by everybody" Borges says. "The players, coaches, the media, everybody, it just dictates how your offseason is going to be, whether you're happy or depressed.
"Not that the rest of the season doesn't have something to do with that too, but when you reach this point when you're playing a team that has only lost one game and you're playing them at their place everyone is watching the game. The kids certainly want to turn it up a notch. It's a big deal."
Not only is the game with Georgia important from a SEC standpoint, it's also very big because the Peach State is the biggest supplier of Auburn football players other than the state of Alabama. Tuberville says that it's important to keep that pipeline open and that means having good relationships and working the state like it's part of Auburn's home territory.
"I think we've got almost everybody in some part of Georgia recruiting," Tuberville says. "We spend a lot of time over there. We're so close to the Georgia line. We have a lot of players from Georgia come to our camps, which is very important if you want to get a scholarship from us because we like to evaluate you not only as a player, but personally.
"We have Hugh Nall (former UGA player) on our staff here that's from the state. We know a lot of the high school coaches and have built a lot of relationships with them. For us to be successful we're going to have to be able to take some players from the state of Georgia each year."
The week is not only different in terms of what it means to everyone involved, it's also different in that it is treated different by Tuberville and the coaching staff. For the next two weeks Auburn will have its meetings in the morning instead of the usual afternoon times. That leaves the players more time after practice to rest for the games, something Tuberville believes in when it comes this time of the year.
"That's the reason I change it around," Tuberville says. "When you have meetings in the morning it means you can't add in the afternoon. These next two weeks are totally different."