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Auburn Vs. Arkansas Preview

Oct. 5, 2008

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#20/23/20 AUBURN (4-2, 2-2 SEC) vs. ARKANSAS (2-3, 0-2 SEC)
OCTOBER 11, 2008 • 4:00 PM CT • TV: PPV


Tommy Tuberville (Southern Arkansas, 1976)
Auburn Record 84-35 (10th year)
vs. Arkansas 5-4
Overall Record 109-55 (14th year)
vs. Arkansas 6-7

Bobby Petrino (Carroll, 1983)
Arkansas Record 2-3 (1st year)
vs. Auburn First meeting
Overall Record 43-12 (5th year)
vs. Auburn First meeting

AU leads, 10-6-1
at Auburn AU leads, 4-2-1
at Fayetteville AU leads, 5-3
Neutral sites Tied, 1-1
at Memphis, TN AU leads, 1-0
at Little Rock, AR UA leads, 1-0
Last Meeting AU 9, UA 7
Oct. 13, 2007 in Fayetteville, AR
Current Streak AU, 1

Auburn 20 AP/23 USA Today/20 Harris
Arkansas Not ranked

Pay-per-view (Live)
Play-by-play Andy Burcham
Analyst Cole Cubelic
Pay-per-view will be available in the states of Alabama and Arkansas to cable subscribers and small dish owners who subscribe to DirecTV (Ch. 787) or Dish Network (Ch. 456). Fans should contact their local cable provider or small dish provider to order the game. Other home dish owners should call 1-800-TV-STARS to order the game.

The Auburn Network provides radio coverage to over 50 stations that cover the Southeast. Rod Bramblett (play-by-play), Stan White (color), Quentin Riggins (sideline), Paul Ellen (studio) and Andy Burcham (locker room) provide gameday analysis.


Live audio & stats

Arkansas visits Auburn as both teams look to bounce back after losses to nationally-ranked teams last Saturday. Arkansas has dropped three in a row - all against nationally-ranked teams - while Auburn has fallen in two of its last three games, both against ranked squads. The game will be televised on a pay-per-view basis.

* The road team has won the last three games in the series and five of the last six.
* Auburn has a record of 263-65-7 (.796) at Jordan-Hare Stadium, including a 49-11 (.817) mark since 2000.
* Over the past five seasons, Auburn is 9-1 in its first game played after a loss, including a 14-12 victory over Tennessee this season.
* Auburn is tied for second nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 11.2 points per game.
* Auburn held five of its first six opponents to 14 points or less, which is only the second time since 1988 that Auburn has achieved that feat (2004).
* Auburn leads the nation in opponents' third-down conversion percentage, surrendering just 17 first downs in 93 attempts (18.3 percent).
* Auburn ranks seventh nationally in total defense (248.8), 13th in pass defense (154.3) and 14th in rushing defense (94.5).
* Auburn has is one of just six teams - and two teams that have played six games - that have allowed just one or no rushing touchdowns this season.
* Auburn ranks third nationally allowing just 4.70 yards per pass attempt and has held its SEC opponents to an average of just 130.5 passing yards per game.
* Auburn has outscored its opponents 75-16 in the first half this season and has allowed just three first-quarter points all year.
* Sen'Derrick Marks leads the SEC and ranks tied for 28th nationally with eight tackles for loss.
* Antonio Coleman ranks third in the SEC with four sacks and is second on the team behind Marks in tackles for loss with seven.
* Robert Dunn ranks fifth nationally in punt returns (21.4).
* Rodgeriqus Smith ranks sixth in Auburn history with 103 career receptions.
* Auburn has two players with more than 1,500 career rushing yards on the squad. Ben Tate has rushed for 1,796 career yards, which is 16th in Auburn history, and Brad Lester has 1,586 career rushing yards, which ranks 21st.
* Auburn has had 12 true freshmen play this season.

Auburn has won four of the last five games in the series ... The road team has won the last three contests and five of the last six ... The Tigers went 5-1-1 in the first seven meetings in the series, before Arkansas won four of the next five contests ... The winning team has scored 21 or more points in every game of the series except 2003 and 2007 ... Eight winning scores in the series have been 30 or more points ... Eight of the 17 games between the two schools have been decided by seven points or less ... Auburn's come-from-behind victory in Fayetteville in 2005 was the only time the team trailing at the half rallied to win since 1994 ... In the last six meetings, Arkansas has averaged 203.5 yards rushing, but only 138.3 yards passing.

Arkansas has dropped three straight games to fall to 2-3 overall and 0-2 in the SEC ... Bobby Petrino had never previously lost three consecutive games as a college head coach ... Arkansas is playing its fourth game in a row against a nationally-ranked team for the first time in school history ... The Razorbacks, who ranked fourth nationally in rushing last year averaging 286.5 yards per game, are 107th this year with an average of 100.6 per contest ... Conversely, Arkansas is No. 2 in the SEC in passing offense this season (251.6) after ranking 11th last year (163.4) ... The Razorbacks are ranked 112th nationally in scoring defense (38.0) and 114th in turnover margin (-1.6) ... Arkansas has also had trouble protecting the quarterback, ranking last nationally in sacks allowed (4.2) ... Michael Smith leads the conference in all-purpose yardage, averaging 150.0 yards per game, including 105.8 per contest on the ground ... Jerry Franklin leads the defense with 42 tackles and has one of Arkansas' two interceptions this season ... Center Johnathan Luigs was named to multiple preseason All-America teams.

Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville is a native of Arkansas, as are sophomores Kodi Burns (Fort Smith) and Lee Ziemba (Rogers) and redshirt freshman Adam Herring (Springdale).

A native of Camden, Ark., Tuberville graduated from Harmony Grove High School, and went on to play free safety at Southern Arkansas University.

After graduating from SAU in 1976, Tuberville was an assistant coach at Hermitage High School for two seasons before serving as its head coach from 1978-79. From 1980-84, Tuberville was a defensive ends and linebackers coach at Arkansas State University.

Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2008. The induction ceremony was held at Alltel Arena in North Little Rock in February. A native of Camden, Ark., Tuberville was one of 12 individuals that were part of the ASHOF's 50th anniversary class.

Three members of the Arkansas squad are from the state of Alabama. Sophomore defensive end Damario Ambrose and junior wide receiver London Crawford are from Mobile and sophomore linebacker Ryan Powers is from Athens.

* Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino was the offensive coordinator at Auburn during the 2002 season. Auburn went 9-4 during his one season on the Plains.
* Auburn redshirt freshman linebacker Adam Herring is the son of former Arkansas defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Reggie Herring. The elder Herring was linebackers coach at Auburn from 1986-91.

Auburn is 11-3-1 all-time on Oct. 11 and has won three straight and nine of its last 10. The Tigers last played on Oct. 11 in 2003 when Auburn beat Arkansas, 10-3, in Fayetteville. Another memorable Oct. 11 win came in 1958 when Auburn, which had just earned a No. 1 national ranking, won at Kentucky, 8-0, to run its winning streak to 17 games.

Auburn is 287-145-18 (.658) all-time in the month of October, including a 23-14 mark under Tommy Tuberville. The Tigers are 23-8 in their last 31 games in October.

Now in its 69th year as home to the Auburn football team, Jordan-Hare Stadium is the nation's ninth-largest on-campus stadium, with a capacity of 87,451 fans. The Tigers are 263-65-7 (.796) at Jordan-Hare Stadium, including a 49-11 (.817) mark since 2000. AU went 7-0 at home in both 2000 and 2004, and posted a 6-1 mark in 2005.

Auburn has responded well after losses under head coach Tommy Tuberville. Over the past five seasons, the Tigers are 9-1 in their first game played after a loss, including a 14-12 victory over Tennessee after Auburn's first loss this season. The Tigers have had only one two-game losing streak in the past five seasons, dropping games to South Florida and Mississippi State early last season.

Auburn has allowed just 67 points through the first six games, tying the Tigers for second in the nation in scoring defense at 11.2 points per game. Five of Auburn's first six opponents have been held to 14 points or less, which is only the second time since 1988 that Auburn has achieved that feat. The 2004 team did not allow more than 14 points in any of its first six games.

Last season, Auburn allowed 102 points in the first six games (17.0 per game) en route to a season in which the Tigers finished sixth nationally in scoring defense.

Auburn's defense has been spectacular on third downs this season, as the Tigers lead the nation in opponent third-down conversions. Auburn opponents have converted just 17-of-93 third downs for 18.3 percent. ULM was just 2-of-18 on third downs in the opener, Auburn limited Southern Miss to just 1-of-14 on third downs Sept. 6, Mississippi State was 0-of-14 Sept. 13, LSU was 4-of-14 Sept. 20, Tennessee was 4-of-16 Sept. 27 and Vanderbilt was 6-of-17 last Saturday.

Auburn went more than eight quarters earlier this year without allowing a third-down conversion. From a first-quarter Southern Miss conversion until LSU converted in the second quarter Sept. 20, the Tigers had played 28 straight third downs without allowing a first down.

Auburn's defense has been particularly stingy in the first and fourth quarters, with opponents converting 3-of-20 (15.0 percent) in the opening period and 3-of-26 (11.5 percent) in the final period. Forcing third and long has been the key, as 55 of the 93 attempts (59.1 percent) have come with seven or more yards needed for a first down.

Under first-year defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads, Auburn's defense has been stellar in areas beyond scoring defense and third-down conversions. The Tigers are ranked in the top 20 nationally in several other defensive categories, including total defense (248.8, 7th), pass efficiency defense (97.43, 11th), pass defense (154.3, 13th) and rushing defense (94.5, 14th).

Not only does Auburn's defense rank 14th nationally against the run (94.5 yards per game), but the Tigers have allowed just one rushing touchdown this season. Only one team has not allowed a rushing touchdown this season (Texas, which has played only five games to Auburn's six), while just four others have matched Auburn with only one TD allowed on the ground, and three of the four have played just five games.

Auburn's secondary has been solid despite a lack of depth this season, as the Tigers rank 13th nationally defensively in pass defense (154.3) and 11th in pass efficiency defense (97.43). The Tigers are allowing only 4.70 yards per pass attempt, which is the third best mark in the nation, behind only Georgia Tech (4.32) and Arizona (4.40).

Auburn has held four of its six opponents to 157 or fewer yards passing, including two that failed to reach 100. Tennessee threw for just 67 yards Sept. 27, and Mississippi State had 78 yards through the air Sept. 13.

Auburn opponents should be ready for more of the same in the future, as there are no seniors in the group of starters or top reserves.

Junior cornerback Jerraud Powers had his second interception of the season against Vanderbilt. Powers, who also has three pass break-ups this year, now has six interceptions for his career. He ranks third on the team with 26 tackles and also had his first career punt return against Vanderbilt.

Junior All-American candidate Sen'Derrick Marks has been a terror on the defensive line for the Auburn defense. Marks leads the SEC and ranks tied for 28th nationally with eight tackles for loss, including two sacks. Marks, who has started all 32 games since the start of the 2006 season, now has 28 tackles for loss during his career.

Junior defensive end Antonio Coleman has four sacks in Auburn's first six games to lead the team and rank third in the SEC, and his seven tackles for loss ranks second on the team behind Sen'Derrick Marks and tied for fourth in the SEC. Coleman, who also has a team-high seven quarterback hurries this year, now has 12.5 sacks during his career, and needs three more to crack Auburn's career top 10.

Auburn has outscored its opponents 75-16 in the first half, having allowed just one touchdown and three field goals in the first half this season. Auburn has surrendered just three points in the first quarter all season while scoring 34.

Auburn played nearly the first seven quarters of its season without allowing a point, surrendering its first score of the season with just 2:33 left in the third quarter against Southern Miss after going 102:27 without being scored upon.

Auburn's one-point loss to Vanderbilt snapped a string of five straight victories for Auburn in games decided by four points or less. It was the first one-point loss for Auburn since a 30-29 defeat at the hands of Tennessee in the 1997 SEC Championship game in Atlanta.

Under Tommy Tuberville, the Tigers are now 17-6 in games decided by four points or less, and have won eight of their last 10. Since the 2000 season, Auburn is 7-1 in games decided by just one or two points.

Auburn is continuing its tradition of producing high-caliber running backs, with two backs on the squad that have over 1,500 career rushing yards. Junior Ben Tate leads the team with 501 yards rushing and ranks 16th in Auburn history with 1,796 career yards. Senior Brad Lester had 186 yards this season and has pushed his career total to 1,586, which ranks 21st. They were the first pair of Auburn running backs to enter a season with more than 1,000 yards rushing each since Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown in 2004.

Senior Rodgeriqus Smith became the seventh player in Auburn history to accumulate 100 career receptions during Auburn's game against Vanderbilt Oct. 4. Smith, who leads the team with 19 catches for 184 yards and a score this season, now has 103 career catches, which ranks sixth in school history. Smith also has 1,450 career receiving yards, which ranks ninth best in Auburn history.

Auburn had 11 different players catch passes Sept. 6 vs. Southern Miss, marking the most players to catch a pass in a game for Auburn since 2005 against Ole Miss. The Tigers have had 14 different players catch passes this season, including 10 players with multiple receptions.

Sophomore Josh Bynes filled in for Tray Blackmon as the starting middle linebacker Sept. 27 against Tennessee, and his first start was a memorable one. Bynes led the team with 11 tackles (six solo, five assists), becoming the first and only Auburn player this season to record a double-digit tackle effort.

Chris Todd completed 21-of-31 passes for 248 yards in his first career start for Auburn Sept. 6 vs. Southern Miss. It marked the most yards passing by an Auburn quarterback since Brandon Cox threw for 251 yards against Arkansas State in 2006. Todd completed 7-of-9 passes for 90 yards in the first 10 minutes of the game, surpassing Auburn's entire passing yardage total from the season opener.

Todd threw for a career-best 250 yards Sept. 20 against LSU, tossing a go-ahead 15-yard touchdown to Robert Dunn with 6:40 left in the game.

Robert Dunn currently ranks fifth nationally in punt returns, averaging 21.4 yards per return. In the season opener against Louisiana-Monroe, Dunn snapped an Auburn streak of 144 consecutive games and 374 punt returns without a touchdown, which was the longest streak in the nation, by returning a kick 66 yards for a score.

Dunn, who was only 10 years old the last time Auburn had a punt return for a touchdown, appeared to accomplish the feat again Sept. 6 against Southern Miss, but what would have been a 65-yard return for a score was reduced to 47 yards due to a block in the back at the 18-yard line that occurred 5 yards behind Dunn, who was about to cruise into the end zone.

Dunn, who has had five of his nine returns this season go for at least 17 yards, finished the Southern Miss game with 103 punt return yards, becoming the first Tiger to have more than 100 punt return yards in a game since Joe Walkins against Ball State on Sept. 1, 2001.

Redshirt freshman Clinton Durst, who burst onto the scene in the spring and was the Special Teams MVP of the A-Day game after averaging 48.3 yards on three punts, ranks third in the SEC and 21st nationally, averaging 42.9 yards per punt this year with 11 punts placed inside the 20-yard line. His kicks, which have included 10 fair catches, have helped Auburn rank fourth in the SEC in net punting at 37.0 yards per kick.

Durst is part of an impressive stable of young kickers that also includes sophomore punter Ryan Shoemaker, who was a first-team preseason All-SEC selection this season after averaging 42.4 yards per punt last year, before being supplanted as Auburn's punter by Durst.

Auburn's group of young kickers also includes sophomore kicker Wes Byrum, who led Auburn in scoring last year with 86 points, including 17 field goals which is tied for third most in a single season in school history. He made game-winning field goals in the closing seconds at Florida and at Arkansas last season.

In addition, sophomore Patrick Tatum averaged 43.4 yards on 16 punts last season while Shoemaker was out with an injury, and sophomore Morgan Hull has also handled the kickoff duties part-time in each of the last two seasons.

Auburn has had 21 players play in their first collegiate games at Auburn this season, including 12 true freshmen. The true freshmen that have seen action this season include: DB Harry Adams, WR Darvin Adams, DB Drew Cole, DB D'Antoine Hood, WR Philip Pierre-Louis, LB Spencer Pybus, DL Jomarcus Savage, RB Eric Smith, TE Vance Smith, DB Christian Thompson, DB Neiko Thorpe and WR Derek Winter. Others who have played in their first games at Auburn include: WR Quindarius Carr, OL Jared Cooper, H Clayton Crofoot, RB John Douglas, P Clinton Durst, RB Ryan Hastie, LB Adam Herring, DB Mike Slade, and QB Chris Todd.

For the sixth consecutive year, Auburn was nationally ranked to begin the season, and the Tigers are currently 20th in the Associated Press poll and the Harris Interactive Poll and are 23rd in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

This season marked the first time since the 1986-91 seasons that Auburn was ranked at the start of six consecutive seasons. The Tigers, then at No. 10, were also ranked in the top 10 of the AP Preseason Poll for the third time since 2003. The Tigers were the preseason No. 6 team in 2003 and ranked No. 4 in the initial 2006 poll.

Auburn has scored in 69 consecutive games, which is the second-longest streak in school history. The Tigers have not been shut out since a 23-0 loss to USC to open the 2003 season. It will be a while before Auburn could challenge the school record. The Tigers scored in 149 straight games from Oct. 4, 1980 through Nov. 14, 1992.

Auburn shut out Louisiana-Monroe in the season opener, 34-0, for its first shutout since a 27-0 win against Arkansas State on Nov. 4, 2006. It marked the ninth shutout by Auburn during the Tommy Tuberville era, and was the first shutout in a season opener since a 31-0 victory over ULM in the 2004 opener.

Auburn's nine shutouts since the 2000 season are tied with LSU for the most in the SEC during that span. No other SEC school has more than four shutouts since 2000.

Under Tommy Tuberville, Auburn is 68-8 when scoring 20 or more points in a game, including a 65-7 mark in the regular season. Dating back to 1995, Auburn is 89-15 when scoring 20 or more points in a game.

Under Tommy Tuberville, Auburn is 45-0 when scoring 30 or more points in a game. Auburn has won 50 consecutive games when scoring 30 or more points.

The last time the Tigers lost when registering at least 30 points was a 56-49, four overtime loss to Georgia in 1996.

In the last 23 years, Auburn is 119-2 when scoring 30 points.

Auburn is 20-20 against nationally-ranked teams during the Tommy Tuberville era, including a 12-6 record since the 2004 season. The Tigers have beaten at least one nationally-ranked team during each of Tuberville's previous nine seasons on the Plains.

Tommy Tuberville is in his tenth season at Auburn in 2008 and his 14th as a head coach in the Southeastern Conference. Tuberville has the third-longest tenure in the SEC (second-longest active streak) behind Phillip Fulmer of Tennessee and Steve Spurrier of South Carolina, who will each coach his 16th season in the league this year.

Tuberville has amassed a record of 84-35 in his 10 seasons at Auburn and an overall mark of 109-55. He has led the Tigers to eight straight bowl appearances.

Tuberville is fourth all-time at Auburn in wins, and is the fourth-longest tenured coach in school history.

In his 14th year as a head coach, Tommy Tuberville has five assistant coaches who have been with him all 14 years. That group includes: defensive tackles coach Don Dunn, running backs/special teams coach Eddie Gran, wide receivers coach Greg Knox, offensive line coach Hugh Nall and defensive ends coach Terry Price.

In recognition of Tommy Tuberville's 10th season at Auburn, Auburn fans had the opportunity to vote for the 10 biggest wins during the Tommy Tuberville era this summer on More than 4,500 votes were cast, and the results were as follows:

No. 10  Auburn 17, Alabama 10     11/24/07
No. 9   Auburn 34, Tennessee 10   10/2/04
No. 8   Auburn 7, LSU 3           9/16/06
No. 7   Auburn 28, Alabama 18     11/19/05
No. 6   Auburn 17, Alabama 7      11/23/02
No. 5   Auburn 31, Georgia 30     11/12/05
No. 4   Auburn 27, Florida 17     10/14/06
No. 3   Auburn 20, Florida 17     9/29/07
No. 2   Auburn 10, LSU 9          9/18/04
No. 1   Auburn 23, Florida 20     10/13/01

Both the Auburn offense and defense have new looks this season, as the Tigers have new offensive and defensive coordinators. Tony Franklin joined the squad as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach prior to the Chick-fil-A Bowl last season, and in just eight practices, installed a portion of his spread offense and helped Auburn amass 423 yards of offense on 90 plays during a 23-20 overtime victory over Clemson.

Paul Rhoads joined the staff as defensive coordinator/secondary coach in January after eight seasons in that position at Pittsburgh. His Panthers ranked fifth nationally in total defense (297.7) and third in pass defense (167.3) in 2007.

Head Coach Tommy Tuberville has a senior class that includes 16 players at Auburn in 2008. The Tigers' group of 16 seniors is the fourth most during the Tuberville era. The largest group of seniors was 21 in 2006, while the 2004 group had 18 and last year's squad had 17. During Tuberville's tenure, Auburn's other senior classes have consisted of: 15 in 2005, 13 in 2003, 15 in 2002, 10 in 2001, 14 in 2000 and 14 in 1999.

The 2008 seniors include: C Jason Bosley, RB Tristan Davis, DT Tez Doolittle, WR Robert Dunn, LB Chris Evans, OL Tyronne Green, LB Courtney Harden, TE Bryan Harris, FB Ryan Hastie, LB Merrill Johnson, RB Brad Lester, WR Charles Olatunji, DS Robert Shiver, WR Rodgeriqus Smith, WR James Swinton and DB Jonathan Vickers.

Auburn's group of fifth-year seniors has a chance to match last year's fifth-year seniors as the only classes to win 50 games in five years. With 42 wins in the previous four seasons, the Tigers need eight wins to reach 50 victories over the past five seasons, and nine wins to surpass that class as the winningest five-year class in school history. Members of the squad that have been at Auburn since 2004 are Tristan Davis, Tez Doolittle, Tyronne Green, Courtney Harden, Merrill Johnson, Brad Lester, James Swinton and Jonathan Vickers.

The 2008 season marks the third straight year that Auburn has had a player on the squad repeating his senior season due to an injury. Tez Doolittle is back for his second stint as a senior after missing last year with an Achilles injury. In 2007, Cole Bennett repeated his senior season after breaking his ankle during the third game of the 2006 season. David Irons was granted a sixth year of eligibility prior to the 2006 season due to a season-ending knee injury he suffered in the 2004 preseason.

Of Auburn's 16 seniors, eight have seen time in more than 30 games during their careers. Courtney Harden leads the group, having played in 40 of a possible 44 games over the past four seasons, and is followed closely by Merrill Johnson (39), Rodgeriqus Smith (39), Robert Dunn (37), Tyronne Green (36), Brad Lester (35), Chris Evans (35) and Robert Shiver (32). Green, Smith and Shiver are the only three members of the senior class to have played in all 32 games over the past three seasons.

Junior Sen'Derrick Marks currently own the longest staring streak on the squad, having started all 32 games over the past three seasons. No other player has a starting streak that dates back to the 2006 season. Rodgeriqus Smith had started 28 straight games until the Sept. 13 contest at Mississippi State.

Four other players have started all 19 games dating back to the start of the 2007 season. Seniors Jason Bosley and Tyronne Green, junior Jerraud Powers and sophomore Lee Ziemba have all started every game since last season.

A number of players have changed positions since last season.

Junior Sen'Derrick Marks moved back to defensive tackle, where he started all 13 games as a freshman before starting every game as a defensive end last year.

Sophomore Mario Fannin, who played running back last season, splits out as a wide receiver in Auburn's new spread offense this year.

Sophomore tackles Lee Ziemba moved from right tackle to left tackles, switching spots Ryan Pugh, who in turn has changed places with Jason Bosley the last two games, moving to center while Bosley plays right tackle.

Junior Gabe McKenzie, who had played tight end during each of his first three seasons at Auburn, switched to defensive end Aug. 19 during preseason camp, and A.J. Greene moved from defensive end to the offensive line Sept. 10.

Auburn has demonstrated a proficiency for placing players in the National Football League. Auburn had 27 players listed on opening day NFL rosters, which was tied for 12th most of any college in the nation. The Seattle Seahawks have the most former Tigers, with five former Auburn players on the roster, while the Washington Redskins have four.

Auburn began the season with eight graduates on the roster.

The Tiger graduates include: OL Jason Bosley (finance), RB Tristan Davis (criminology), DL Tez Doolittle (criminology), OL Tyronne Green (criminology), LB Courtney Harden (criminology), LB Merrill Johnson (criminology), WR Rodgeriqus Smith (business administration) and WR James Swinton (public administration).

Listed are the top 10 programs in terms of number of players who have completed their bachelor's degrees prior to the start of the 2008 season.

1.  Miami (Fla.)    13
2.  Boston College  10
    Virginia Tech   10
4.  Maryland        9
5.  Auburn          8
    Clemson         8
    Pittsburgh      8
8.  Arizona State   7
    Memphis         7
    Ohio State      7
    Penn State      7

Auburn's offense lost three-year starting quarterback Brandon Cox, but still returned nearly all of its leading rushers and receivers, as well as players responsible for more than 90 percent of their points scored in 2007.

Category            2007    Return   Percent
Passing Yards       2,317   145      6.3%
Rushing Yards       2,040   2,099    102.9%
Receptions          204     168      82.4%
Receiving Yards     2,317   1,873    80.8%
Scoring             315     1284     90.2%
Touchdowns          38      33       86.8%
Total Offense       4,357   2,244    51.5%
All-Purpose Yards   5,809   5,087    87.6%

The offensive line was a concern for Auburn entering the 2007 season after the Tigers lost four senior starters from the 2006 squad. But three true freshmen joined a pair of juniors in the starting lineup beginning with the season's fourth game, and the Tigers went on to win eight of their last 10 contests. Inexperience is far from an issue this season as the entire group returns for 2008, although sophomore guard Chaz Ramsey has been battling a back injury. Senior center Jason Bosley and senior guard Tyronne Green anchor the group after starting every game last year, while sophomore Lee Ziemba has switched from right tackle to left tackle after also staring every game in 2007 as a true freshmen. Sophomore Ryan Pugh, who started the final 10 games last year, switches from left to right tackle, and junior Byron Isom has moved into the other guard slot for Ramsey.

Defensively in 2008, Auburn is replacing four starters from last year's squad that led the SEC and ranked sixth in the nation in scoring defense (16.9), including two interior linemen and two members of the secondary. Defensive tackles Josh Thompson and Pat Sims combined for 104 tackles including 16 for losses, while safety Eric Brock and cornerback Patrick Lee ranked fifth and sixth on the team with 59 and 55 tackles, respectively. In addition, NFL draft picks Quentin Groves and Jonathan Wilhite were seniors in 2007.

However, three of the top four leading tacklers return in sophomore safety Zac Etheridge (65), senior linebacker Chris Evans (64) and junior cornerback Jerraud Powers (63). Powers also shared the team lead with four interceptions.

Other key returners include juniors Antonio Coleman and Sen'Derrick Marks on the defensive line. Coleman had team highs of 18.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks, while Marks was named to several preseason All-America teams.

Other returning starters are junior linebacker Tray Blackmon and sophomore linebacker Craig Stevens.

In addition to ranking sixth in the nation in scoring defense, the 2007 Auburn defense also ranked sixth nationally in total defense (297.9) and pass defense (173.2).

The Tigers return 46 lettermen from last season, including 22 on offense, 20 on defense and four specialists. Auburn returns eight starters on offense and seven on defense.

Auburn's roster of 113 players includes 16 seniors, 18 juniors, 35 sophomores, 15 redshirt freshmen and 29 freshmen. The underclassmen (79) represent 69.9 percent of the Tigers' roster.

A number of walk-ons joined the program after the first day of classes on August 18.

Auburn achieved a rare feat during the opener against Louisiana-Monroe, scoring touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams. The Tigers scored on a fumble return for a touchdown by Michael Goggans on their first defensive play, then added a punt return for a score by Robert Dunn later in the first quarter. When Brad Lester rushed for a touchdown in the third quarter, it marked the first time Auburn scored touchdowns in all three facets of the game since during a 73-7 victory over ULM in 2003.

Auburn has won nine of its last 13 games against teams ranked in the Associated Press top 10. The Tigers have won five of their last eight against top-ten teams and six of their last seven at home.

Last year, Auburn won at No. 4 Florida, 20-17, and in 2006, the Tigers beat No. 3 LSU (7-3) and No. 2 Florida (27-17). In 2005, Auburn posted victories at No. 9 Georgia (31-30) and against No. 8 Alabama (28-18). In 2004, Auburn defeated No. 5 LSU (10-9), No. 10 Tennessee (34-10), No. 8 Georgia (24-6) and No. 9 Virginia Tech (16-13) in the NOKIA Sugar Bowl.

Three of the four losses against top-10 teams since the 2004 season have come in close calls against LSU - in overtime in 2005 by a 20-17 score, by a 30-24 score in 2007 when LSU scored on a 22-yard pass play with just one second left, and 26-21 this year when LSU scored a TD with 1:03 remaining.

During the Tommy Tuberville era, Auburn is 15-13 in games played against top 10 teams, and is 15-8 dating back to a 23-20 upset of No. 1-ranked Florida Oct. 13, 2001.

Dating back to the 2002 season, Auburn has played 22 games against top 10 teams.

Over the past five seasons, Auburn has the nation's third-best record in games played away from home (road or neutral site games). The Tigers are 18-5 (.783) since the start of the 2004 season outside of Jordan-Hare Stadium, trailing only Texas (25-4, .862) and USC (24-5, 828). In SEC games, Auburn is 15-4 against SEC teams outside of Auburn since the 2004 season.

Auburn has won 16 of its last 18 games when wearing all white uniforms, including this season's road opener at Mississippi State. The Tigers had not lost when wearing white jerseys during the entire 2004-07 seasons, until Georgia broke the 15-game winning streak in white in Athens last November. The Tigers went 5-0 in all white uniforms in 2004, 3-0 in 2005, 4-0 in 2006 and 3-1 in 2007. The streak includes the 2004 SEC Championship game against Tennessee, a 2007 AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic victory over Nebraska and last year's home victory over Vanderbilt when the team wore all white to honor the 1957 national championship team. Auburn also has road wins at Alabama (twice), Ole Miss (twice), Arkansas (twice), Mississippi State (twice), Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina and Kentucky during that span.

Auburn has been tough to beat in night games at Jordan-Hare Stadium, including a season-opening victory over Louisiana-Monroe this year. The Tigers have accumulated a record of 15-3 since the 2000 season in home games starting at 6 p.m. or later. That stretch includes a 4-1 record against ranked opponents, with wins over No. 1 Florida in 2001, No. 2 Florida in 2006, No. 7 Tennessee in 2003 and No. 14 Georgia in 2000.

Auburn surpassed the 20 million mark in all-time total attendance at Jordan-Hare Stadium during the game against Louisiana-Monroe. The Tigers, now in their 69th season at Jordan-Hare Stadium, have drawn 20,336,017 fans. It took 51 seasons for Auburn to draw its first 10 million fans, but took just 18 more to draw the second 10 million. The Tigers surpassed 10 million fans during the fourth home game of the 1990 season - a 56-6 victory over Vanderbilt on Oct. 13.

Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast (CSS) will broadcast encore presentations of Auburn football, every Sunday at 6 p.m. ET/5 p.m. CT with Andy Burcham handling play-by-play duties and Cole Cubelic doing color commentary. CSS will also air the Auburn Football Review every Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET/4 p.m. CT and the Auburn Football Preview every Friday at 4:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. CT.

CSS is a 24-hour regional sports network serving approximately 5.8 million households across 12 Southeastern states.

Linebacker Courtney Harden and defensive tackle Jermarcus Ricks are brothers ... Brad Lester was a high school teammates of the Atlanta Braves' Jeff Francoeur ... Walter McFadden's older brother Bryant plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers ... Clinton Durst was recommend to the Auburn staff by former Auburn and PGA golfer Buddy Gardner ... Neiko Thorpe's last name was Lipscomb until he had it legally changed to his father's last name this summer.



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