Usually players can easily put a loss behind them, but a bowl game is different because there is no opponent to get ready for the next week. That made for a long offseason for the Tigers.
Making the months even longer was Strength and Conditioning Coach Kevin Yoxall. Determined to keep the players focused on improving, Yoxall wore his badge from the bowl game around his neck during winter and summer conditioning as a reminder to the players of that day. Quarterback Brandon Cox says that when the Tigers face Nebraska this New Year's Day in the Cotton Bowl they're hoping for a different result after what they've gone through this year.
"We were reminded of it every day until we started getting ready for Washington State," Cox notes. "Coach Yox wore the Capital One badge every day at workouts and still has newspaper articles posted in the weight room. It was definitely embarrassing and something we don't want to happen again.
"We just have to be more focused," Cox adds. "We really had some good bowl practices. Throughout all of our bowl practices we practiced pretty good. We just kind of had one of those bad days. We've been out with Coach Yox since we got back working out and running trying to get back in shape. We're doing a little more than we did last year."
Cox is 18-5 as Auburn's starting quarterback in his career.
The Tigers will begin practicing for Nebraska on Dec. 14 following final exams on the Auburn campus. When they do they'll get to work preparing to face one of the most successful programs in college football history. As a football fan growing up Cox says it's neat to get to play Nebraska in a bowl game this year.
"I have never been to Dallas and never been to Texas so I'm looking forward to going out there," he says. "Since I have been here we have played Penn State and Wisconsin twice. We've always been playing Big 10 teams. I was hoping to go somewhere else and play some other teams. I was hoping for Dallas.
"It's a big-time school with a lot of tradition," Cox says. "They've kind of changed it up a little bit. They always used to run the ball, but now they've got Coach Callahan and they are throwing the ball around. Growing up you knew who Nebraska was. They were always ranked at the top. They're back to where they used to be so it will be fun to play them."
Saturday night Cox says he watched Nebraska some while flipping back and forth between the SEC and Big 12 championship games as well as the Rutgers-West Virginia game. That's something Cox has been doing a lot of lately as he tries to get back to full speed following a season in which he suffered injuries to both knees and ankles. With three full weeks off from practice before the Tigers start up again, Cox says the extra rest has finally gotten him back to full strength once again as he looks to finish out his junior season on a high note.
"I'm healthy finally," Cox says with a laugh. "I have laid around and worked out when I had to. I'm just trying to stay off my feet to let my legs heal. I've done a pretty good job."