After coming off a huge victory, Auburn looks to avoid a letdown as it hosts Division I-AA Citadel on Saturday.
Quarterback Jason Campbell hit Courtney Taylor for a 16-yard touchdown pass with 1:14 to play to lead the No. 9 Tigers (3-0) to a 10-9 victory over then No. 5 LSU last Saturday.
Even though it’s only three games in, Auburn hasn’t been ranked in the Top 10 this deep into a season since 1997 when the Tigers held that position into the seventh game.
With a visit to No. 11 Tennessee next Saturday looming, Auburn must not get caught up in the hype and overlook the winless Bulldogs (0-1).
Safety Junior Rosegreen figures the Tigers learned their lesson about handling hype last season, and will fare much better for the experience.
“I look at it like last year happened for a reason, because we had all of the hype coming in, and we had the big heads,” Rosegreen said. “This year, we’ve got the more calm head and everybody is a little more focused.”
Auburn fell out of the Top 10 after a humbling opener against Southern California last season, spoiling a preseason No. 6 ranking.
Coach Tommy Tuberville likes his team’s approach so far but hopes to see some “dramatic improvement” in some areas, such as protection on kickoff returns.
“If we keep this effort and keep the attitude that we’ve got, I think we’ll win some more games,” Tuberville said. “We’ve still got to understand that it’s early in the season, and the target’s going to be on us now.”
The Tigers have now won six straight games dating back to last season.
Auburn is led by the two-pronged rushing attack of Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown. The two tailbacks are combining for just under 190 yards a game.
Williams leads the team with 300 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Brown has 269 yards on the ground and is averaging 8.9 yards.
Campbell has been steady so far guiding the Tigers offense with 419 passing yards, six touchdowns and just one interception after three games.
Campbell injured the big toe on his right foot against LSU, but he doesn’t think it will be a factor Saturday’s game.
“By Thursday, it should be full-strength,” he said.
Auburn will be playing against the Citadel for the first time ever. The Bulldogs are coming off a 28-14 loss to Appalachian State last Saturday. The Citadel’s offense was held to just 137 yards.
The Bulldogs first touchdown came on James Greene’s 53-yard fumble return in the first quarter to tie the game at 7-7. The Citadel turned another fumble recovery into a 19-yard score drive in the second quarter.
Nehemiah Broughton leads the Bulldogs with 85 yards rushing on 18 carries.