Tuberville: Cotton "Should Be A Great Game"

Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville talks about his team's selection into the AT&T Cotton Bowl and playing Nebraska.

Auburn, Ala.--It has been 30 years since Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville saw his first Cotton Bowl Game. Since then he's been back several times during his coaching days at Miami, but this will be his first time since he's been at Auburn and the first appearance for the Tigers at in that game in 21 years.

Because of all those reasons, Tuberville says his team is eager to play in one of the storied bowl games, the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.

"We're very excited," Tuberville says. "I talked to the team and the staff about the possibility of us maybe getting an invitation to the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic and they're really excited. It's a different part of the country. In the past few years we have played in New Orleans and in Florida a couple of times and in Nashville, Tenn.

"Our guys are excited. When you are dealing with young players and kids I think it will be a great educational experience for them to see another part of the country and to see the height of football in the state of Texas."

Auburn's last appearance in Dallas came following the 1985 season when Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson led the Tigers against a very good Texas A&M team that featured current Auburn assistant coach Terry Price on the defensive line. Once again the Tigers will play a name program with the Nebraska Cornhuskers on the opposing sidelines this time around. Tuberville says it should be a fun match up and he's looking forward to it.

"It's great for our players to have an opportunity to get the reward to play in a game such as this against a great football program in Nebraska," the coach says. "I have watched them over the years and coached against them a few times being at the University of Miami in several bowl games. I have kept up with Coach (Bill) Callahan's career over the years being a student of the game. I'm really excited about playing against his team and players.

"It should be a great game between to similar teams," Tuberville adds. "We run the same offense, the West Coast offense, and two similar defenses that attack the line of scrimmage and try to make plays on defense.

"It's a reward for our players and that's how we'll treat it. We obviously want to come out and play as well as we possibly can. We're looking forward to getting to Dallas and taking part in a lot of things that happen there and enjoying time with the coaching staff from Nebraska and also their football team."

Auburn will face a Nebraska team that is much different from the days of old when running the football ruled the roost in Lincoln. Under Callahan the Huskers throw the ball around and have done so very well this season. One of the country's top offensive teams and averaging over 31 points per game, Tuberville says Nebraska will be a challenge for an Auburn defense that struggled at times during the year with consistency.

"I'm an old defensive coach and Coach Callahan is an offensive guy," Tuberville says. "We put a lot of emphasis on defense. This year we kind of changed our defense. We went more from a four-man front to a three-man front. I hired Will Muschamp who for years was with Nick Saban at LSU and spent a year as the coordinator at the Dolphins. I brought him in last year. We needed to make some changes for us to give ourselves a better opportunity with the type of players we had.

"We didn't play as well during the year consistently as we have in the past because of some of those changes."

Coming into the 2006 season Auburn was one of the teams many thought would challenge for the national championship. Instead that game will feature top ranked Ohio State versus number two Florida, a team that Auburn defeated this season. Tuberville says that while the Tigers would obviously like to be playing in a BCS game when the calendar moves to 2007, a trip to Dallas is the next best thing for a team that persevered through a tough season and still came out with a very good record.

"We had a good year," Tuberville says. "Ten wins in major college football is huge. Any time you can get to double digits it's big and your players obviously played consistently.

"It wasn't a year that I would like to go back and replay because we had so many injuries and things that went against us. I'm really proud of the way our players stood up and played and our backups playing and coming in and doing things that sometimes they didn't think they could do to continue winning games. We had a couple of set backs to Arkansas and one to Georgia, but we also had some big wins, two against two top five teams as we speak, and two BCS teams in Florida and LSU.

"When we start the year we always want the opportunity to win our conference and then go to a good bowl game," Tuberville adds. "We accomplished one of those being the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic. We didn't win our conference. We came close and competed hard and that's what it's about. This is a great reward for our players. This is not a second tier bowl. This is one of the top in the country and always has been."

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