AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville may not have to campaign for votes during bowl season this year.
Two years ago on the day after completing a 13-0 season by winning the Sugar Bowl, Tuberville hopped on an Auburn private plane and flew to Miami to go to the BCS national championship game between USC and Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.
He strolled through the pressbox
pressing the press flesh.
It didn't work. USC beat
got all the votes to win the national title, though that could be taken away by
the NCAA if USC paid for Reggie Bush before the Saints did. But it was a good
try and a good idea by the Auburn sports
information department, which is the best in the Southeastern Conference along
The day after the BCS national
championship game this season on Jan. 8 in Phoenix, Ariz., Tuberville
might be able to go hunting in Arkansas and celebrate the national
championship he didn't get to play for in that 2004 season.
Auburn (3-0, 2-0 SEC) moved up from
No. 3 to No. 2 on Sunday in the Associated Press poll after edging No. 6 LSU,
which fell to No. 10, 7-3 here Saturday afternoon. Ohio State remains at No. 1. The table is set
for Auburn, which has a relatively light schedule
the rest of the way starting with Buffalo next week. (No, not the NFL team.) The
first place Tigers' only road games are at South
Carolina on Sept. 28, at Buffalo-like Ole Miss on Oct. 28 and the
regular season finale on Nov. 18 at Alabama,
which has not and does not have the talent Auburn does and has lost four straight to the
Tigers. But what motivation it will be for the Crimson Tide in the Iron Bowl.
Not only could it make its season by knocking Auburn out of the national championship game,
it could make its decade.
The home games left after Buffalo are Arkansas,
Arkansas State and Georgia.
It's all there for Auburn, and this Auburn
team is probably not as good as that 2004 team. Quarterback Brandon Cox is no
Jason Campbell. Tailback Kenny Irons is no Cadillac Williams. The defense is not
as good either, but it still could happen.
"That's a very fine Auburn team," LSU coach Les Miles said. "They played
extremely well. They did exactly what they needed to do to win."
Now, all Auburn has to do is win
the rest of its games because it won the big one. Auburn had not defeated a higher ranked team in
Jordan-Hare Stadium since it beat No. 5 Florida 28-21 in 1983. Auburn may not play a
better team than LSU the rest of this season, including the bowl
"We beat the number six team in the
nation, so that should put us in the national title picture," Auburn linebacker Will Herring said.
"We have a long ways to go,"
Tuberville said. "If you want to count any of them bigger, other than the Iron
Bowl, this was the bigger one because this was the team that consistently
knocked us out or we knocked them out of the championship game."
The two best teams in the SEC
played Saturday afternoon. Perhaps only Auburn
can beat Auburn
"It was good to see guys rise to
another level," said Tuberville, who was down to a third team cornerback against
LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell after injuries to starter Jonathan Wilhite and
backup Pat Lee.
Auburn also had defensive coordinator Will
Muschamp in his first season with a new team. He manhandled his buddy, LSU
offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher, and held Fisher to his fewest points since a
31-0 shutout by Alabama in 2002. That was back when Fisher
didn't have nearly as talented a quarterback as he has now.
"Coach Muschamp and his coaching
staff did a miraculous job against a throwing quarterback like that and guys
that were very active in the backfield who can run the ball and receivers that
can run," Tuberville said.
Fisher made a serious mistake,
though. He kept trying to run in the third and fourth quarters when it was
obvious he couldn't. It was like Nick Saban was still the head coach, holding
Fisher back. Miles has talked about how he likes to go deep on his spring tours.
They didn't try that enough. Russell could have played better, but Fisher's and
Miles' play calling let him down. So did more drops in from Dwayne Bowe and
Early Doucet and one by Jacob Hester.
Surely, Auburn's players loved it
when they saw the dangerous Russell hand off. LSU's longest run from scrimmage
was 12 yards ... by Russell. They could breathe a sigh of relief as Justin Vincent and Alley Broussard struggled to get to a hole on the rare occasions one
opened up. Charles Scott should have been tried at tailback. In the end,
LSU's average offensive line and slow backs, holding them to a 1.8-yard average
"It was a very violent game. There
was more speed on that field than I have seen in a long time on both sides,"
said Tuberville, who must have been thinking of LSU's receivers, not its
"It is hard to have a loser in that
game," he said. "We are awfully glad that this year we came out on top. Our guys
played like champions."
Quit the campaigning Tommy. You
might not have to do that this year. You're No. 2.
Glenn Guilbeau covers LSU and the
Southeastern Conference for Gannett News Service. Read him at www.LSUbeat.com or in the Shreveport Times, Monroe
News-Star, Alexandria Daily Town Talk, Lafayette Advertiser, Opelousas Daily World and occasionally USA
Today. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.