While Coach Tommy Tuberville's players agree on many subjects, that is not the case when predicting which team will remain undefeated when the 8-0 Patriots and 7-0 Colts play. The matchup is the first of its kind because in the history of the NFL there has never been a game featuring teams with 7-0 or better records.
Auburn freshman Michael McNeil is confident he knows who the winner will be. "The Patriots all day," the safety says. "Randy Moss is a deep ball receiver. They have a strong unit and they play as a team.
"The Patriots have always been winning without the superstars," says McNeil, whose uncle Clifton was a star receiver in the NFL. "Now they have got a few superstars in Randy Moss and Stallworth (Donte Stallworth), who can also stretch the field, and Tom Brady is just a magician back there at quarterback."
Senior Josh Thompson has a contrasting view. "I think that Peyton Manning is pretty dominant," the defensive lineman says. "I think he just broke Johnny Unitas' record for most touchdowns. The Patriots always play hard and find a way to win, but I have to go with my Colts. Hopefully, Manning will continue to play hard and play good. If he does, there isn't much of anybody who can stop them."
Josh Thompson and the Tigers will play their final non-conference regular season game this Saturday vs. visiting Tennessee Tech of the Ohio Valley Conference.
Senior offensive tackle King Dunlap, whose father played for the Colts when the team was in Baltimore and Unitas was the quarterback, admits to a strong rooting interest. "I am biased to the Colts," he says. "I like Peyton Manning and all of those guys up there--Joseph Addai and Marvin Harrison. It is going to be a really good game because the Patriots are always going to come ready to play and (Coach Bill) Belichick always has something. I want the Colts to win, but I am not saying they are going to win."
Deep snapper Robert Shiver says he doesn't have allegiance to an NFL team like Dunlap, but has an opinion on who will win the showdown between Indianapolis and New England. "The Patriots look pretty good," he says. "I know they put up a lot of points last week against the Redskins. It was hard to see J-Cam (former Auburn QB Jason Campbell) go down like that. The Patriots have a great team. I definitely give the Patriots a really good chance to win this win even though I would never count Peyton Manning out of it."
Sophomore tight end Gabe McKenzie sees a victory for the Indianapolis quarterback and his Colts team. "They both have got so many weapons, offense and defense, but I will give it to Peyton. The Colts have good receivers and a good tight end, too."
Sophomore cornerback Walter McFadden sees a tight contest. "That is a hard game to pick, but I am going to go with the Colts because I have a high school teammate who plays for the Colts, Clint Session," he says. "To me this game is like the Super Bowl."
Antonio Coleman would likely beg to differ with his teammate McFadden. The Auburn sophomore, who is the SEC defensive lineman of the week for his play in AU's victory over Ole Miss, says, "My team is the Cowboys and the Patriots whipped them so I am going to have to go with the Patriots. My roommate (Jermarcus Ricks) thinks the Colts are going to win, but I really like the Patriots and Randy Moss. We go at it all of the time. His team is the Green Bay Packers. I was messing with him about the Packers going into overtime on Monday night with the Broncos, who have one of the worst teams in the NFL."
Auburn's players have wrapped up their on-the-field preparations for their next game. On Saturday the 6-3 Tigers will play their Homecoming game as the 4-5 Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles make their first ever trip to Jordan-Hare Stadium. There will be no live television coverage of the contest that will kick off at 1:30 p.m.