AP photo by Todd J. Van Emst|
Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox looks for a receiver during the Tigers' first practice since beating Alabama in the Iron Bowl.
Remember the Capital One Bowl
Auburn hasn't forgotten loss to Wisconsin as Tigers prepare for Cotton Bowl trip
By Bradley Handwerger
AUBURN — For nearly two hours Thursday morning, Auburn's football team practiced behind the athletic complex, working for the first time since defeating Alabama 22-15 on Nov. 18.
But those two hours, plus almost an entire year, aren't nearly long enough for those involved to forget the debacle that was the 2006 Capital One Bowl.
You remember it, don't you?
If not, here's a quick reminder: Wisconsin pounded Auburn 24-10.
For what it's worth, Tommy Tuberville has tried to forget it as well.
"We burned that film a long time ago," Tuberville joked. "I watched it very quickly."
As No. 10 Auburn (10-2) prepares for its Jan. 1 Cotton Bowl contest against No. 22 Nebraska (9-4), last season's loss to the Badgers weighs heavily on the minds of the Tigers.
At that time, Auburn entered as perhaps the best team in the Southeastern Conference, having lost only one league game and beaten Georgia, the eventual league champion.
And then the Tigers laid an egg in Orlando, Fla., probably enjoying the sun and fun more than maybe they should have.
"Well, we had a lot of fun. I'm not going to say we didn't," junior defensive end Quentin Groves said. "But at the same time, I think a lot of us got focused two days before the game instead of getting focused before we got to it."
Now that it's bowl season again, Auburn's players and coaches are making sure that what happened in the town that Walt Disney built won't happen in the city of gigantic steaks and the Cowboys.
"What affected me the most was watching them celebrate at the end of the game sticks out at me," Groves said. "I have a picture on my wall of me with my head down and my helmet on. I hate that feeling."
For what it's worth, the coaches, especially strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall, aren't letting the players forget.
"It still lingers," junior nose guard Josh Thompson said. "Coach Yox still wears the little Capital One Bowl thing around his neck, telling us we're only as good as our last game, every time we run or anything like that. It's still lingering. It's a reminder and it's a little motivation for us."
So what's going to be different about this year's bowl preparation from last season?
Practices in Auburn this year will take place at 11 a.m., approximately the same time the Cotton Bowl will kickoff in Dallas. And the younger players, mostly those who redshirted this season and those who didn't play much, will get more practice time.
But this time, instead of practicing early in the morning at the bowl site, Tuberville is going to have the team work out late in the day. He wants his players a little fresher and less drained.
"We are going to let them sleep a little later," Tuberville said. "Last year, we looked a little tired, and we got them up a lot earlier than what we are getting them up this year."
Some of that is weather related. In Orlando, the weather is mostly predictable — warm temperatures and sunny skies. But in Dallas, winter weather fluctuates wildly.
"I've been there before," Tuberville said. "In 1991, we had to scrape the ice off the field every practice in Texas Stadium. You don't know what you are going to get."
And if all else fails, Tuberville can remind his players one more time of what happened in the Sunshine State.
"Our players have heard a lot about it, and they understand," he said.
Cotton Bowl: Auburn vs.
Save $84.50 a year off our newsstand price:
Subscribe today for only 38 cents a day!