A Senior Moment For Mr. Nowland

Ben Nowland's smile told the happy, happy story for the Auburn senior center.

Tuscaloosa, Ala.--To reverse the order of description from the ABC Wide World of Sports TV Show, Auburn knows the agony of defeat and the thrill of victory.

Nobody on the Auburn squad is more aware of the highs and lows a college football player can experience than fifth-year senior center Ben Nowland, who suffered through a broken bone in his foot during the most miserable football season in recent years as a freshman back in 1998.

With a chance to make Nowland's senior season memorable, the Georgia Bulldogs rallied in the closing seconds in Nowland's final game at Jordan-Hare Stadium last week to slip out of town with a 24-21 victory and the SEC East title. That was one of the lowest lows for the leader of the offensive front who really wants to end his career as an SEC champion.

Quarterback Jason Campbell takes a shotgun snap from Nowland during Saturday's game.

Early in the week the senior said it was a tough, tough pill to swallow losing to Georgia, but said after being around the 2002 Tigers, going back to winter workouts, he was sure the Tigers would bounce back with a big effort against archrival Alabama. That is exactly what happened as the Tigers took a 17-7 victory.

"This is a huge win," Nowland said. "This will be one of the most memorable wins I have played in along with the Florida win last year. What a heck of a way to go out."

Alabama went into the game as a solid favorite with its No. 9 ranking and top-rated defensive unit. Auburn players like Nowland said the Tide had a good defensive unit, but were never overly impressed with what they had seen.

"LSU was rated No. 1 in defense before we played them, too,"Nowland said, noting the Tigers whipped the Bayou Bengals 31-7. "We looked at that as a challenge and went out there and played our game."

Nowland and the Tigers are taking the week off as the university is out of session the entire week for Thanksgiving holidays. The Tigers will return to practice next Saturday to begin preparations for their bowl game or the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta if Arkansas and LSU falter down the stretch.

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