The Vols had better play a four-quarter football game Saturday night or they will lose. Auburn boasts a tremendous stable of running backs in Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown, Brandon Jacobs and Tre Smith. Still, Burnett thinks Tennessee's quartet of Cedric Houston, Jabari Davis, Gerald Riggs Jr., and Corey Larkins is just as good.
''I think they stack up fairly well,'' the Vol linebacker says. ''They (Auburn's backs) might be a hair faster but the offensive lines are pretty much dead even.''
Like most observers, Burnett figures the team that does the best job of running the ball and stopping the opponent from running the ball will prevail.
''Whichever team runs the best will win,'' he says. ''The defensive lines will play a huge part in that. (It's a matter of) whose defensive line can hold up to the big offensive lines of Tennessee and Auburn.''
Tennessee, 4-0 overall and 2-0 in SEC play, is the only unbeaten team in the SEC East. Auburn, though 2-2 overall, is 1-0 in conference play and in great shape to win its division. Thus, Saturday's game is crucial for both sides.
''We know what this game means,'' Burnett says. ''It's another step in the SEC. The biggest thing is, it's the next game on our schedule. It's a do-or-die game. Everybody knows if you lose a game, you're pretty much out of the SEC race.
''We need to make a statement. We need to bow our necks again because we've got another tough game. We're trying to get over the hump.''