Cope Eager to Play As LSU Game Approaches

Auburn center Joe Cope discusses Saturday's Southeastern Conference game as the Tigers prepare to play LSU.

Auburn, Ala.--For senior Joe Cope, the excitement factor is high as he and his teammates head into Saturday's spotlight football game as the Tigers of Auburn are hosts to the Tigers of LSU.

A national television audience and a packed house at Jordan-Hare Stadium will be watching the showdown between the SEC's two top-ranked teams. The game has been garnering attention from around the region and the nation on a Saturday featuring numerous appealing matchups matching ranked teams.

"This is what you practice for--this is it, the big-time, the type of game you play college football for," Cope says.

The Auburn center says his team will be fired up for his last game against LSU. Last year Cope and his teammates suffered a 20-17 overtime loss in Baton Rouge that kept them from playing in the SEC Championship Game. Auburn held a solid edge in the game statistics, but didn't take advantage of a variety of scoring opportunities and LSU rallied for a comeback victory.

"It is one of those games that you think about, but in college football you have got to have a short memory," says Cope, whose team is 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the SEC. "Sometimes when you sit around you think about that game a lot because it was so close. We are hungry to win this year and hopefully we will have a different outcome."

Joe Cope is shown in action in last year's Auburn at LSU games. AU outgained LSU 451-339, but lost in overtime.

LSU, which is 2-0 after walloping a pair of non-conference opponents, is ranked sixth and seventh in the major polls this week while Auburn is third and fourth. Cope says he is impressed with the Bayou Bengals.

"They are definitely going to be the best we have played so far," he notes. "They are a Top 10 and they didn't get that ranking for no reason. LSU, year in and year out, their coaches do a good job of recruiting and they get a bunch of good players. It is going to be a battle--a heavyweight fight."

Last year against LSU, Cope and his offensive line teammates had a solid performance, paving the way for tailback Kenny Irons to rush for 218 yards. He and fellow seniors, guards Ben Grubbs and Tim Duckworth, were key players in that game for AU. The personal-record performance by Irons was the most yardage given up to a running back by an LSU defense since 1996. Last week in Auburn's 34-0 victory at Mississippi State, Irons was limited to 69 yards. Cope says the offensive line needs to play better this Saturday.

"The effort was there," Cope says. "Our assignments were there. We just have to finish our blocks."

LSU leads the overall series vs. Auburn 21-18-1. Auburn leads in games played at Jordan-Hare Stadium by an 8-5 margin and has won the last three matchups vs. LSU that were played in Auburn.

CBS will televise the 2006 matchup at 2:30 p.m. CDT.

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