Tate Underdog Role Doesn't Both Tigers

Auburn sophomore running back Ben Tate talks about the running game and facing LSU's defense.

Baton Rouge, La.--All season the Auburn Tigers have faced challenges. To start the year it was a struggling offense without one of its best players that put the team behind the eight ball in losses to South Florida and Mississippi State.

After that it was tough road trips to Florida and Arkansas where the Tigers were underdogs in both games. This week is perhaps the toughest of all as Auburn travels to Baton Rouge to face a very physical and talented LSU team looking to stay in the race for a SEC Western Division title.

Perhaps the toughest challenge this week goes to the Auburn offense as LSU's defense enters the game as one of the best in the country, giving up just 223.1 total yards and 68 rushing yards per game to the opposition. Over the last three games though LSU is allowing 121 rushing yards per game, including 152 to Florida two weeks ago.

Sophomore running back Benjamin Tate says this week is what it's all about for an offense as they face a defense few think they'll be able to handle.

"It's going to be a big challenge," Tate says. "It's something I look forward to, going against one of the nation's top defenses. I think they are ranked number one against the run. It's something that I look forward to.

"I love those type of things," Tate adds. "Being challenged is great when people don't think you can get it done or that you're not the best. I love that type of thing. It's something I thrive off of."

Tate has certainly delivered this season for the Tigers. Coming into this weekend's game he leads Auburn in rushing with 597 yards and is second in touchdowns with four. Averaging 85.3 yards per game and 4.8 per carry, Tate has become the go-to guy for the Tigers and handled that role nicely last week at Arkansas when he rushed for 81 of his 91 yards in the second half.

"It's definitely fun," Tate says. "That's something I want to do. I just want to make sure the coaches believe in me to get it done. I love that feeling and want to be able to keep doing that every game."

Without Brad Lester available the first five games because of an academic suspension, the running back duties were shared by Tate and Mario Fannin. Now with Lester back in the fold and running well, the job became almost exclusively Tate and Lester last week at Arkansas and the duo combined for 180 yards on the night. Tate says the combination is one that works well because each back does some different things to help the offense out.

"It's real important for us to work together because he's a different type of back than me," Tate says. "He's more of a slasher that makes a lot of guys miss. I do a little bit of that, but I also can pound you too. We just complement each other."

This week Auburn is once again the underdog as LSU entered the week as a double-digit favorite and it hasn't changed. Tate says that the team loves the fact they're still getting no respect from people around the country and he hopes it works in their favor once again.

"It's always fun to the underdog and come out on top," Tate says. "That's what we're looking to do this week just like we did a couple of weeks ago.

"I guess we're just a team that doesn't let it get to us or faze us," Tate adds. "We just stay focused and stay sharp."

Pulling off the upset won't be easy for Auburn because of the challenge awaiting from LSU's defense. Led by Glenn Dorsey, Ali Highsmith and company, LSU has allowed just 99 points this season and has 48 tackles for losses and 20 sacks. Tate says their defense makes it tough for an offense, but Auburn must put up some points this week if the Tigers hope to come home with a win.

"Their front four is pretty tough," Tate says. "Our offensive linemen are going to have their hands full. They are fast and get to the ball. You can't play around with those guys. You have to bring the hat to them first. We just have to pound them and try to run over the top of them before they get to you.

"We have to play a lot better than we did last week," Tate adds. "We can't put up nine points against LSU or we won't be helping our defense. We won't win if we put up nine points. We've got to do better than we did."

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