Tigers Put The Wraps On Plans For Outback

Auburn coach Gene Chizik and junior offensive lineman Mike Berry talk about practice and preparing to face Northwestern.

Tampa, Fla.--The Auburn Tigers (7-5) put the finishing touches on preparation with a two-hour practice in shorts and helmets on Wednesday morning at Pepin Rood Stadium on the campus of the University of Tampa. With just a walk through remaining at Raymond James Stadium on Thursday, coach Gene Chizik said his team is ready to hit the field and see what happens.

"It was just a great day today," Chizik said. "Obviously the weather is beautiful. Hopefully it's close to this on game day. Today was really our final preparation for the bowl. I really thought practice was sharp. They were focused and tuned in. I think it was a great way to end our last practice of the year.

"We're on a normal game week schedule," he added. "We're going to walk through tomorrow and do exactly what we would do on a normal Friday. Today was our normal Thursday."

Friday will give the team a chance to do some of the final activities associated with the Outback Bowl. The team will have a picture taken inside the stadium and have a short walk through to get used to the surroundings in preparation for the game on New Year's Day.

A team that has dealt with rain on numerous occasions this season, Auburn should feel right at home based on the forecast for Friday. With a high around 60 expected and the chance of rain at 60 percent, things could be wet for the 11 a.m. ET kickoff, but Chizik said that's not a concern for his club.

"We'll just play it by ear," Chizik said. "We've got all our preparation in. Obviously circumstances can change what you may and may not do, but for the most part it's set."

Quarterback Chris Todd throws a pass during practice in Tampa.

If it is wet that could mean even more emphasis on the ground game for the Tigers. Facing a defense that is allowing just 123.5 rushing yards per contest and held Wisconsin to 99 yards the last time out, Auburn will need to be sharp on Friday and junior offensive lineman Mike Berry said he's expecting just that after a good week of practice.

"They've got a great defense," Berry said of Northwestern. "They're big and physical. They get around pretty good. We've just got to be physical ourselves and hit them in the mouth to begin with.

"This week has gone great," Berry added. "We've come together after the break. Everybody enjoyed time with the their families, but we're here for football. We've had some fun, but it's time to win the game."

Kickoff for the Outback Bowl game on New Year's Day is scheduled for 11 a.m. ET and can be seen nationally on ESPN.

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