When Vanderbilt (1-1) opens its SEC schedule against Auburn (1-1) Saturday, Commodore receiver and captain Dan Stricker will carry a little baggage from last year's game into the contest.
After last year's Auburn game in Nashville-- a game won 24-21 by the Tigers-- Stricker had some harsh remarks in the locker room about the "dirty play" of the Auburn secondary.
"Trash-talking is part of the game," said Stricker after last year's game. "But when they're throwing punches on the bottom of the pile, grabbing your face-mask, stepping on you and stepping on your hands-- my hands were bleeding all day long.
"It's just not what you do. It's not what you expect from an SEC opponent. When they bring dirty play into it, it just degrades the football game.
"I love playing SEC opponents," added Stricker. "They're usually very cordial with each other. Hard hits are fine. Getting on your case when you didn't do something right, that's fine.
"But when they start bringing the bad aspects of football in-- that's just not good for the SEC, it's not good for the fans, and it's not good for the players, because it just degrades the whole game."
When asked this past week about the remarks he had made, Stricker acknowledged that he still remembered.
"Personally, I have some vendettas to pick with some of their secondary guys," said Stricker. "I really want to show them what Vanderbilt football is all about.
"They [Auburn] have some hot heads out there. They like to play football hard, and that's how I like to play too, so it's going to be exciting to clash helmets a little bit with some of those Tigers."
The game has had a number of undercurrents this past week. In Wednesday's edition of the Birmingham News, Auburn freshman lineman Taylor Bourgeois said that Vanderbilt had recruited him, but that he wasn't interested, and suggested that football wasn't all that important at Vandy.
"It's a good school, but at the time, football wasn't a very important thing," said Bourgeois to the News. "The new coach may have brought a whole lot of excitement to the game, but I wanted to come somewhere football was important."
The contest will likely be played in front of a crowd of over 86,000 partisans at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Stricker said the Commodores look forward to playing in front of a large crowd on the road.
"That's what I love about college football," said Stricker. "There's always a little challenge there when you're looking for one. We're looking forward to a great game and building on our win."
Freshman quarterback Jay Cutler, who has started Vanderbilt's first two games of the season, said he did not expect to be intimidated by the large crowd.
"It's not so much the crowd, it's their players," said Cutler. "We can't really do anything about the crowd. If we go out there and execute the way we can, we'll be fine."
Kickoff is set for 11:30 a.m. Nashville time. The game will be televised regionally by the Jefferson-Pilot network.