- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 14, 2004

AUBURN, Ala. — Any questions?

Third-ranked Auburn stated its Orange Bowl case in emphatic fashion yesterday at Jordan-Hare Stadium, treating the college football world to a 24-6 thrashing of No.8 Georgia.

“Some people didn’t believe in Auburn, didn’t think we were ready for the big time and picked us to lose this game,” said senior Carlos Rogers, a .44-caliber cornerback who shredded the Bulldogs with eight tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss and an interception to lead a shutdown performance by the Auburn secondary. “That was a serious statement we just made. They were never even in the game. We shocked the world with this one. Now everybody knows Auburn’s for real.”

The Tigers (10-0, 7-0 SEC) certainly earned a number of converts yesterday. Auburn didn’t just beat Georgia (8-2, 6-2), the SEC’s second highest-ranked team, the Tigers destroyed the ‘Dawgs, pounding out to a 24-0 lead with 14:13 remaining that allowed the party on the Plains to begin long before the game ended.

“As I just told the players, I haven’t seen a complete game like this offensively, defensively and in the kicking game all at once,” said Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville, who was nearly fired last season but now has the Tigers 10-0 for the first time since 1993. “That was fun to watch.”

Unless you were a Bulldogs backer, it was quite a spectacle — a brutally efficient demolition. Rogers and his defensive mates completely stifled Georgia senior quarterback David Greene. The SEC’s leader in career victories (40) finished the game with just 159 yards passing, throwing one interception and just one meaningless late touchdown pass.

Offensively, Auburn was a well-balanced methodical machine, coasting up and down the field behind a mix of short passes from senior quarterback Jason Campbell and stirring runs and receptions from the tremendous senior tailback tandem of Carnell “Cadillac” Williams and Ronnie Brown.

Campbell finished the game 18 of 22 passing for 189 yards, one touchdown and one interception. And Williams and Brown combined for a staggering 337 yards of total offense and three touchdowns, scoring on a run (Williams), a halfback pass (Williams) and a catch (Brown).

“Those guys are awesome. You can’t defense them — you just can’t,” said Tuberville. “One guy goes out and makes two or three plays, and then you put the other guy in. I’d hate to be calling defenses on the other side.”

Brian VanGorder, Tuberville feels your pain.

VanGorder’s defense watched Williams (19 carries, 109 yards) roll into the end zone from a yard out on Auburn’s first possession. And when the Bulldogs stacked the box to stop the run, they watched Williams take what looked to be a toss sweep, stop, and chuck a 29-yard touchdown pass to abandoned wide receiver Anthony Mix to put the Tigers up 14-0 midway through the second quarter. After a 32-yard field goal from Auburn’s John Vaughn concluded the first-half scoring, they then watched Williams return a late third quarter punt 40 yards to the Georgia 31.

Six plays later, it was Brown’s turn, as he jumped into the slot from his tailback position and hauled in a 15-yard touchdown strike from Campbell on a streak that no safety in the nation could have stopped for a rout-clinching 24-0 margin.

“When you get beat like that, the only thing you can say is that you got whooped,” said Georgia coach Mark Richt. “I knew they were good, but that was something else.”

The question now becomes was Auburn’s victory impressive enough to propel it past No.2 Oklahoma in the polls? The Tigers entered yesterday’s game ranked third in both human polls (AP and Coaches). And largely as a result of that poll status, the Tigers were ranked third behind USC and Oklahoma in the latest BCS standings. The top two teams in those standings will head to Miami for the Orange Bowl (Jan.4) and a shot at the national title.

The Sooners’ lead over Auburn is certain to shrink thanks to yesterday’s performance. And with games remaining at Alabama (Saturday) and vs. No.15 Tennessee in the SEC Championship game (Dec.4), Auburn has a far tougher remaining schedule than Oklahoma, and thus more opportunity to convert voters.

“I think the polls are going to feel [this victory],” said Williams, chants of ‘We Want ‘Bama’ from the 87,451 euphoric fans at Jordan-Hare raining down on him. “I think we’re getting ready to jump someone.”

They sure jumped Georgia yesterday.

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