For the first time since 1992, the Auburn-Alabama game will be played on Thanksgiving weekend instead of the week before. That has meant a different mindset for this Auburn team because it was off last week as well. Senior defensive tackle Josh Thompson says it has made for almost a camp atmosphere and one he really enjoys.
"Not going to class is huge," Thompson says. "It's kind of like a pro setting. You can come up here and watch as much film as you want to, do whatever you want to really. They're not grinding us like a two-a-day practice. It's a little more laid back. We're doing the things we usually do, but you have a little more time to watch film and have time to ourselves a little bit."
One thing this Auburn team hasn't done is put a lot of stock in Alabama's loss to Louisiana-Monroe over the weekend, the senior says. Knowing they're going to see a much more inspired team this Saturday than the one that lost last week to the Warhawks, Thompson says they're preparing for an all-out fist fight against the Crimson Tide.
"Things like that happen," Thompson says. "It has happened to us. They are a great team. They've got a great staff and great players. We're going to come out and take it like they haven't lost a game all year."
Something that will change for Alabama this week will be the return of two key offensive linemen, including All-SEC performer Antoine Caldwell. Back after being suspended for a violation concerning textbook improprieties, Thompson says he's certain they'll be ready to play this Saturday, but their return won't change what Alabama does on offense.
"They probably won't change up their philosophy too much," Thompson says. "They are going to do what they do best and what they feel best against us. We've watched a lot of film on them and they've done stuff against different defenses. We're just going to try to prepare for everything and hopefully we'll be prepared come Saturday."
With a week with no students, there should be quite a crowd in town beginning Friday with the campus opened at 6 a.m. Thompson says that all week this game is different, but when the team gets back to Auburn on game day it takes on a whole new perspective and one that he's anxious to feel one more time.
"The crowd is more into it," Thompson says. "The atmosphere coming in, when we ride in from LaGrange, is just crazy. It's just a whole different atmosphere. That game can change your whole life. You want to make a big play in that game. That's what we try to do."
On Saturday Thompson and the Auburn Tigers have a chance to win their sixth consecutive game against Alabama, which would be the longest streak in Auburn history. Currently the senior class has won 40 games, just one shy of last year's record of 41 wins in four years. Thompson says both records would be huge to accomplish, but first and foremost is just beating Alabama and leaving Jordan-Hare Stadium as a winner for the final time.
"It would mean a lot," Thompson says. "We prepare for them all year long. That's what we base a lot of our workouts on. It would mean a lot for us to go out with a win. That's with any team. You don't want to lose to any team here. They are an in-state rivalry and it's the biggest game of the year. It means a lot to the seniors, especially with the seniors from Alabama. They have dealt with it since they have been growing up. It's just big for us."