Auburn's Tiger Stadium Veteran

Cole Bennett will play his third game at LSU's homefield on Saturday night as the SEC West heavyweights battle for a shot at the divisional crown.

Baton Rouge, La.--While most members of the 2007 Auburn football team haven't played a game at LSU's Tiger Stadium, tight end Cole Bennett will be making his third appearance there on Saturday night.

The fifth-year senior, who received a medical hardship redshirt last year when he suffered a season-ending foot injury in Auburn's 7-3 home victory over LSU, has been a contributor to the Auburn offense since the 2003 season when he made his first trip with his teammates to the home of the LSU Tigers.

"That place is always interesting to go play at," he says of Tiger Stadium where a sellout crowd of 92,400 fans and a national TV audience on ESPN will be checking out the SEC West showdown matching Tommy Tuberville's Auburn team vs. the home team coached by Les Miles.

"It's a completely unique environment and when you talk about loud and rowdy, it really takes it to a new level down there," Bennett says. "It'll be a lot of fun to go to a place where everyone hates you. It's always fun to play in a place like that."

The senior is hoping for a better result than on his previous two trips to Baton Rouge. Auburn fell 20-17 two years ago in overtime and was a 31-7 loser on his frist rip to Tiger Stadium. The other Auburn vs. LSU game Bennett played in was in 2004, a 10-9 victory for an Auburn team that finished 13-0.

Bennett, who had one catch in last week's road victory at Arkansas, says the offense needs to play better than it did vs. the Razorbacks. "We moved the ball well, but we really didn't finish there in the red zone and punch it in--ball movement and things like that," he says.

"Realistically, a lot of times we're just one block away where if the guy had just held it half a second longer we would have had some really big plays," Bennett says. "We definitely took a step forward. We just didn't quite finish the way we wanted to."

LSU brings a 6-1 overall mark and a 3-1 league record as the Bayou Bengals look to bounce back from a 43-37 triple overtime road loss to Kentucky that dropped LSU from No. 1 in the polls to No. 5.

Cole Bennett is shown at a Tiger Walk prior to Auburn's road win at Mississippi State last season.

Last year's Auburn vs. LSU showdown at AU's Jordan-Hare Stadium was the most physical game of the year for Bennett's Tigers and the senior is expecting a repeat. "This is definitely the most physical team we'll face," he says. "They're big, fast and strong. And they hit just like we do. This is definitely going to be a knockout, drag-out, tough fight."

Auburn is ranked 18th and 19th in the major polls this week and No. 17 in the initial BCS ratings after winning four straight games since losing to Mississippi State 19-14 to open SEC play on Sept. 15th.

Bennett says the turnaround has been orchestrated with hard work on the practice field. "When we went 1-2 to start the season we realized we weren't as good as we thought we were," he points out. "We kind of went back to the basics and guys just went out and took every play very seriously and just tried to get better. We knew that we were going to have to give the effort, work on the technique and good things will come.

Although the Tigers had several intense practices this week, they also cancelled one of their workouts to give the team a day off after a very physical 9-7 win at Arkansas last Saturday night. "They're one of the more physical teams in the conference and they're some of the bigger guys you'll face, especially on the interior line," Bennett says of the Razorbacks.

"We definitely needed that, especially so late in the season," Bennett says of having two consecutive days away from the practice field. "We don't get our off week until after the Georgia game," he notes. "It's just a really long grind for us and having a couple of days off definitely helped get our legs back and give us more steam and a fresh start going into the final stretch."

Kickoff time from Tiger Stadium is scheduled for shortly after 8 p.m. CST with ESPN providing the television coverage.


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