This is unchartered territory for almost all of Auburn's football players. Some of the seniors were redshirted in 2006, when Auburn spent much of the year in the top 10, rising as high as No. 2 in the polls. Needless to say, it's been quite a while since expectations were this high on the Plains.
Those expectations are well deserved. Eight straight wins (four against current top 25 teams) and a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback have people around the country buying into Auburn. They even sit atop the BCS standings.
Despite the fact that Auburn is only No. 3 in the Harris poll and Coaches poll, the computers loved Auburn's schedule strength enough to put them in the top spot of the overall BCS standings.
Basically, that means the target on Auburn's back got a little larger. Sure it's nice to be recognized as the top team in the BCS for the first time in its 13-year history (especially since I'm currently an Auburn student), but it honestly doesn't mean anything until the last poll is released.
Now, Gene Chizik's Tigers must find a way to focus in on a tough road trip to Oxford on Saturday night. Jeremiah Masoli has Mississippi's offense improving, and the defense has a ton of potential. Houston Nutt is generally at his best when trying to pull an upset.
It's not like Auburn has dominated on the road this year. They held on against Mississippi State by three, and needed a 19-play drive in the last few minutes to defeat Kentucky in Lexington.
This will be Auburn's ninth straight game without an off week. After big-time, physical contests with Arkansas and LSU, this is the perfect opportunity for a let down. Make no mistake—Auburn will have to play well to emerge victorious in Oxford.
Ask Alabama, Ohio State and Oklahoma about going on the road as a No. 1 team. Sure, their opponents were probably a little tougher, but none of those No. 1 teams were really that close to winning either.
No win on the road in the SEC is guaranteed. If Auburn can stay focused and play the way it's capable on both sides of the ball, it will get a chance to come home and get a "week off" of sorts as FCS opponent UT-Chattanooga comes calling next week for Homecoming.
The 24 seniors on this team have their work cut out for them this week as they attempt to keep everyone focused on taking one game at a time.
To quote Lee Corso, I think this game will be "much closer than the experts think." But in the end, it's hard to bet against the Auburn rushing attack. What do you think?
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