However, the Auburn head coach admits it is going to take a few days to get up to speed on the Nittany Lions. Although Auburn coaches have had video tapes on Penn State since last week, the Tiger head coach and other assistants have been too busy with their recruiting assignments to spend time studying Coach Joe Paterno's team. The players have been busy, too, with final exams for fall semester classes starting on Monday.
Auburn will begin on the field preparations for the bowl game on Dec. 14th and will work out daily, perhaps several times a day, on campus through the 20th before allowing the players to go home before they reassemble in Orlando to begin bowl practices.
Former Tiger quarterback Ben Leard is shown entertaining children of Auburn coaching staff members during the Tigers' last bowl trip to Orlando.
Auburn got the bid for the SEC's No. 2 bowl slot ahead of Arkansas and LSU, the two other teams that tied the Tigers for the SEC West title. "I would like to thank the Capital One Bowl for having confidence in the Auburn University football team," Tuberville said. "We didn't have a great year at the beginning, but we finished up an excellent football team. We are much better now than we were at the beginning of the season. We have got a very young team with a lot of talent. I think it is going to be very exciting to watch.
"We are also very excited about playing a team with the tradition of Penn State and Coach Joe Paterno, who in my belief is one of the best coaches that has ever coached college football. I am excited about the opportunity to take our team and play against his.
"We are also excited about coming to Orlando again for the second time in three years--a place where we had a lot of fun two years ago. I don't think there is any doubt it is one of the best bowl games in the country. It is just going to be fun for our players and our fans. Our fans are very excited. We will bring a tremendous crowd with us and it will be a fun week, hopefully, for everybody involved."
Shown during Auburn's last bowl trip to Orlando from left to right are current senior quarterback Daniel Cobb and two former Tigers, Cole Cubelic and Ben Leard, who played their last game vs. Michigan two seasons ago at the Florida Citrus Bowl, which is now the Bank One Bowl.
Auburn athletic director David Housel talked to bowl officials from the Bank One game in Orlando as well as the Cotton in Dallas, the Peach in Atlanta and the Music City Bowl in Nashville on numerous occasions the past two weeks as he worked to try to get Auburn the best bowl trip possible. "We are very excited to be going back to the Orlando area and the Capital One Bowl," Housel said. "Auburn University and Florida Citrus Sports have had a long relationship. We have a lot of friends there and there are a lot of Auburn people in the area. It is America's greatest bowl trip and we are looking forward to being a part of it."
The Tigers and Nittany Lions will meet at the 70,000-seat Florida Citrus Bowl stadium. The game will be televised by ABC with kickoff set for noon CST on New Year's Day. Auburn is ranked 19th and 22nd in the major polls and Penn State is 10th in bowl polls.
Jason Campbell is hoping for a better result this year than the Tigers had in losing to North Carolina in the Peach Bowl last season.
Auburn is trying to end a two-game bowl losing streak. The Tigers lost to North Carolina last season in the Peach Bowl and fell to Michigan in Orlando two seasons ago. Penn State's last bowl trip was to San Antonio in 1999 where the Nittany Lions defeated Texas A&M 24-0 in the Alamo Bowl.
Tuberville said he expects to see a big turnout of Auburn fans in Orlando. "We only had one game where we didn't play that well. We were a couple of plays away from probably being 10-2 or 11-1. When it all comes down to it at the end of the season we were much better than we were at the beginning of the season. We have most people healthy. It has been fun to watch this team grow."
Auburn Football Notes: The Tigers are 4-2-1 against Big Ten teams. Six of those seven meetings have been in bowl games...The Capital One Bowl will be the final game for 15 seniors. The group includes NG Dante Booker (Akron, Ohio), LB Mark Brown (Germantown, Tenn.), QB Daniel Cobb (Marietta, Ga.), TE Lorenzo Diamond (Biloxi, Miss.), P/K Damon Duval (Chattanooga, Tenn.), OG Ryan Hockett (Jacksonville, Fla.), CB Roderick Hood (Columbus, Ga.), DS Michael Lindsey (Atlanta, Ga.), C Ben Nowland (Jacksonville, Fla.), FB Michael Owens (Tuscumbia, Ala.), FS Travaris Robinson (Miami, Fla.), FB Marshall Thornton (Jonesboro, Ga.), SS Rashaud Walker (Decatur, Ga.), DB Horace Willis (Douglasville, Ga.), and WR Marcel Willis (Jacksonville, Fla)...Penn State will be Auburn's fourth Top 10 opponent this season. The Tigers won games vs. LSU and Alabama and lost to Georgia. The last time the Tigers played four Top 10 teams was in 1997 when the Tigers finished 2-2 in those contests...Tuberville is 3-1 vs. Top 10 teams as Auburn's head coach...The Auburn head coach says that Penn State star tailback Larry Johnson reminds Tuberville of AU running back Ronnie Brown...Penn State has a 7-4 record in bowl games vs. SEC teams...Auburn is selling its bowl tickets for $65 to the game while Penn State has added a $5 surcharge to each ticket it sells for a price of $70 per seat in the Nittany Lions' sections.