November 13, 2004
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- Auburn appealed to the poll voters with a dominant performance that left coach Tommy Tuberville with little reason to give a stump speech.
The Tigers' 24-6 victory Saturday over Georgia (No. 5 ESPN/USA Today, No. 8 AP) said it all.
One thing I'd say: I'd hate to play us," Tuberville said. "I know the people will be fair when they vote. That's all we can ask."
Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown combined for 260 total yards and each scored a touchdown for the third-ranked Tigers, who may have earned the boost they needed in the Bowl Championship Series standings.
Auburn (10-0, 7-0 Southeastern Conference) was third in both polls and in the BCS standings behind Southern California and Oklahoma this week. The Tigers knew a big performance against the Bulldogs would go a long way toward convincing voters in The Associated Press media poll and coaches poll that they're better than the second-ranked Sooners, no matter what Oklahoma does in its last three games.
If Auburn can move past the Sooners in the polls, it should be able to move past them in the BCS standings. The top two teams in the final BCS standings will play in the Orange Bowl for the national championship.
"It's going to be hard not to vote for us," Williams said.
At least one voter said he was impressed. "I've been voting them high," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "I think they are one of the best if not the best team in the country."
The 108th meeting between the SEC's oldest rivals was also the third time the Tigers and Bulldogs (8-2, 6-2) were both ranked in the top 10 when they met. But Auburn turned one of the most anticipated games ever played at Jordan-Hare Stadium into a rout.
Auburn's dynamic tailback tandem of Williams and Brown did it all offensively.
"Awesome," Tuberville said. "You can't defense them. You just can't do it."
Williams ran 19 times for 101 yards and caught four passes for 20 yards. He also threw a TD pass and returned a punt 40 yards to set up Brown's 15-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter that made it 24-0.
Brown ran for 51 yards and caught seven passes for 88.
Georgia went scoreless for 57 minutes, before David Greene hit Leonard Pope with a 6-yard TD pass with 2:13 left.
Auburn's defense held the Bulldogs to 279 yards and came up with two key takeaways deep in its own territory.
The second turnover came in the third quarter with Georgia trailing 17-0 but threatening to make it a game. Greene found Reggie Brown for what would have been a first down inside the Auburn 20, but safety Junior Rosegreen hammered Brown, causing a fumble that Will Herring scooped up for the Tigers.
Brown stayed down for several minutes after the helmet-to-helmet hit before slowly walking off. He missed the rest of the game with a concussion.
Greene was 15-for-22 for 159 yards and an interception. He also lost in an opponent's stadium for just the second time in 17 games in his stellar career.
Auburn's West Coast offense gave Georgia a variety of looks, mixed plays masterfully and used Ronnie Brown and Williams every way it could on the way to a 17-0 halftime lead.
"They came out and did bootlegs, options and a lot of different things," Georgia defensive end David Pollack said. "They didn't really put themselves in bad predicaments."
The Tigers took a 7-0 lead on their first possession, completing an 80-yard march by running the option from the 1. Quarterback Jason Campbell waited until he was in the arms of a defender before pitching to Williams, who walked in for his 44th career TD, one shy of Bo Jackson's school record.
The Tigers got tricky again in the second quarter, sending Williams on what looked like a sweep right. Instead, he floated a soft pass to a wide-open Anthony Mix, who went 29 yards for a 14-0 lead.
Williams said the play always works in practice.
"When coach called that play, I said, 'Mix, touchdown. Let's get ready to celebrate,'" Williams said.
While Williams and Brown did the major damage, Campbell directed the show. The SEC's top-rated passer completed 18-of-22 passes for 189 yards.
Georgia had a couple opportunities to break through in the first half against the second-stingiest scoring defense in the nation but failed to convert.
The best one came in the second quarter, when Pollack blocked a punt in Auburn territory. But Carlos Rogers picked off Greene's pass in the end zone, just the second interception the left-hander had thrown this season.
The Tigers still have two tough tests left, at Alabama next week and in the SEC title game on Dec. 4, most likely against Tennessee.
"I think there are some things for us to do," Tuberville said, "to maybe win a few more voters."