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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2006
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Auburn

DALLAS — Senior receiver Courtney Taylor is an Auburn football institution at this point. If you're looking for a good quote, find Taylor. If you're looking for the Tigers' leading receiver, it's Taylor. If you want to laugh, yep, go to Taylor.

But with four catches Monday in No. 10 Auburn's Cotton Bowl game against No. 22 Nebraska, Taylor will become Auburn's career leader in receptions. He needs three to tie Karsten Bailey with 150 career catches.

"It would mean a lot to me," Taylor said. "Just to be first in anything would mean a lot to anybody. It would be a perfect ending to my career at Auburn."

Injuries marred Taylor's junior season, and an up-and-down offense has hampered his senior season.

Nevertheless, Taylor has built a relationship with quarterback Brandon Cox that's unmatched. They're friends on and off the field. So catching the record-breaking pass from Cox would make it that much sweeter.

"Just to have a guy to fight through everything he fought through," Taylor said. "And just for me and him to have that connection that we have had this year, it would mean a lot."

High expectations: Observers picked Auburn in the preseason to have a shot at the national championship. At the Southeastern Conference's media days in July, nearly every reporter who voted picked the Tigers to win the league.

And then the Tigers went 10-2, with a chance to improve to 11-2 on Monday. Two years after going 13-0, Auburn's fans certainly have built lofty expectations.

"We set some high standards when we went 13-0," offensive guard Ben Grubbs said. "I think anything other than that is not acceptable. But we know the fans and the Auburn family, the tradition here is winning. When we lose games, we take it to heart. I think that's why we are a great program."

But that's not entirely a bad thing, Grubbs added.

"Who likes to lose?" he asked. "The pressure people put on us, we take it upon us to perform under pressure. We get the job done a lot of times. We came two games short, but we still had a great season."

Bradley Handwerger,
Daily Sports Writer

Iowa

SAN ANTONIO — Iowa junior linebacker Mike Klinkenborg will likely miss today's Alamo Bowl against No. 18 Texas because of a foot injury.

Klinkenborg injured his foot during workouts in Iowa City. The coaching staff was hopeful that Klinkenborg's foot would improve in time to play against the Longhorns, but coach Kirk Ferentz said Friday that he doesn't expect Klinkenborg to be available.

Senior Zach Gabelman will likely start in Klinkenborg's place.

Klinkenborg was named second-team All-Big Ten by the media this season. He led the Hawkeyes with 129 tackles.

Miami

BOISE, Idaho — For the past month, Miami coach Larry Coker has tried to remove himself from the story line surrounding the MPC Computers Bowl, continually insisting the focus shouldn't be on his finale with the Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes (6-6) say they have many reasons for wanting to beat Nevada (8-4) Sunday, including finishing with a winning record to salvage something from a trying season that went horribly wrong, both on and off the field.

"Everybody wants to win for Coach Coker," defensive back Brandon Meriweather said. "He's a great coach and everybody wants to play good for him. We always wanted to play good for him and things didn't go our way this year. But we've got one more chance to make it happen for him."

Coker — who enters this game with a 59-15 record and a national championship — was fired last month after Miami's mediocre regular season, one that will be remembered more for tragedy than triumph. The Hurricanes endured the death of defensive lineman Bryan Pata, who was shot and killed outside his apartment, an on-field melee against Florida International that prompted some critics to call for the disbanding of the entire football program, and constant speculation over Coker's status.

Navy

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Navy coach Paul Johnson is concerned about the size of Boston College's linemen. He isn't worried about fan support.

The underdog and undersized Midshipmen will be the crowd favorite when they face the 23rd-ranked Eagles in the Meineke Bowl today.

Downtown Charlotte was a sea of blue and gold Friday, with Navy flags flying from cars and fans dressed in their school colors as they roamed the streets and attended a street festival and pep rally.

"The alumni stay engaged and stay in touch," Johnson said. "When we run out on the field Saturday and BC runs out, it won't be hard to see the difference."

But Johnson, a North Carolina native, thinks local fans will also get behind Navy (9-3). Johnson is a candidate for the Alabama head coaching vacancy.

"We'll have a 215-pound defensive end going up against a 365-pound offensive tackle," Johnson said. "Not many people will be pulling for the guy who is 365, even though he might be a great kid."

The Eagles (9-3) don't really have a lineman that big, but the starters on the offensive line do average 306 pounds. Navy's left defensive end Tye Adams is listed at 225.

The Associated Press

Copyright 2005 THE DECATUR DAILY. All rights reserved.
AP contributed to this report.

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