"We'll find a way to win a game because they have a tremendous will," offensive coordinator Al Borges says of the players. "And that's admirable. Eleven wins is 11 wins.
"I told the coaches if we win this game then it was going to be like every other game," Borges adds. "We're not going to be eating hotdogs at halftime, that's for sure. It's going to come down to the wire. Every game against a formidable opponent, and some that aren't as formidable, has been tough. This team, although painful to watch at times as a coach, has tremendous belief in their ability to win games."
The 2006 Auburn offense certainly wasn't filled with superstar skill players, but the Tigers made a habit of finding away to win ball games. They squeaked past LSU, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama and Nebraska this season mostly by winning the turnover and field position battles.
"It was so typical of the way we played all year," Borges notes. "We're not very prolific."
Despite having just 46 yards at halftime, Auburn was even with Nebraska on the scoreboard at 14-14 because of an interception return by Karibi Dede and a botched fake punt by the Cornhuskers. In the third quarter the Auburn offense racked up 113 yards was able to change the score with a field goal and change field position.
"In the first half they threw about every blitz conceivable at us," Borges explains. "(Nebraska defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove) did a heck of a job. Kevin mixed up his blitzes and coverages real well and had us off balance. The second half we kind of settled back in a little more because we kept it a little more basic. We picked up stuff better and we ran the ball a little better. It was just enough. It certainly wasn't very good, but it was just enough. It reminded me of the LSU game.
"Every time you hear the coach say, ‘we've got to keep from turning the ball over,' this game epitomizes that. That's how we won the game. We had two short drives and found a way to get it done."
Kenny Irons ran tough against the Cornhuskers, but there wasn't much room as he finished with 72 yards.
Borges' halftime adjustments paid off as the Tigers took their second possession from their own 20, attacked the Nebraska secondary with throws to Prechae Rodriguez and Courtney Taylor and drove to the Cornhuskers' 15-yard line. Brandon Cox found Lee Guess in the end zone and Guess was able to wrestle the ball away from the defender, but the official ruled that he was out of bounds. The drive was enough to loosen the defense and get a field goal from John Vaughn, which turned out to be the game-winning points.
"The way to score a lot of points on Nebraska, the best chance you have, is to attack their secondary," Borges explains. "We weren't protecting very good early in the game so we weren't getting a chance to do that. We went to some more basic protections and we got rid of the ball faster. It helped us to get the ball to our wide receivers."
With a 17-14 lead near the end of the third quarter, the offense started the next possession at its own one-yard line and moved the ball all the way to the Nebraska 35 before sputtering and punting the ball away.
"We didn't score on it," Borges notes, "but we changed the field position and used the clock. That's how we win. We use the clock and use the kicking game good. It's not always the way I like to play football. I'd rather light the scoreboard up and all of that, but I'll take it. I'll take 11 wins however you can get 11 wins. I've had games where we've had a lot of a points and a lot of yards and lost. I'd rather have a few points and a few yards and win."
Cox finished the game 10-21 passing for 111 yards and a touchdown pass to Carl Stewart. Tailback Kenny Irons carred the ball 24 times for 72 yards.
"We never really sprung him out of there," Borges says. "We tried and we kept pounding him. I was committed to him. I told the coaches and the players last night we were going to run him because he's healthy now and he feels pretty good. We never really got him turned loose."
Taylor was the leading receiver with six catches for 70 yards.