Auburn, Ala.--A day before the most important game of the season, the Auburn campus has already started to take on a game day atmosphere.
TV trailers are set up outside the western side of Jordan-Hare Stadium. The ESPN Gameday stage is set up in the grass outside Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. RVs and campers have already filled the large grassy lots at the corner of Donahue Drive and Lem Morrison Drive to near
capacity. Other campers and tailgating tents are spread all around campus. Downtown Auburn has been busy for days.
ESPN's Gameday crew has set up shop in front of Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.
And after showers and cooler temperatures swept through plains Wednesday night, it finally feels like football weather as the Auburn Tigers and Georgia Bulldogs near closer to their 108th meeting.
"It's the biggest game of my life," says senior safety Junior Rosegreen.
That sums up the atmosphere for many around Auburn as the Tigers are 9-0 and bowl eligible for the first time since the 1971 season after Pat Sullivan led the Tigers to a victory over Georgia in Athens on the way to his Heisman Trophy winning season.
The Bulldog faithful are enjoying a successful season also, having only a five-point loss to Tennessee standing between them and perfection. With a strong mix of offensive and defensive firepower, Georgia will present a huge challenge for the Tigers and Rosegreen says this is a game that you live to play in.
"We're going to have to come out and fight for four quarters," the senior says. "Georgia will have to do the same. This is going to be one of those knock-down, drag-down 15-rounders."
Auburn has had the luxury of an off week to prepare for Georgia after starting the season with nine consecutive games. While many of the Auburn players went home to see their families last weekend, being from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Rosegreen spent his time on campus preparing for the Dawgs.
Junior Rosegreen has been a fixture in the lineup at strong safety.
The fifth-year senior safety spent last Saturday in front of the TV rooting for Texas A&M and Oregon State and the rest of his weekend watching film of Georgia. Although Texas A&M and Oregon State fell short of knocking off Oklahoma and USC--the two teams ranked ahead of Auburn in the BCS standings--Rosegreen says that as long as Auburn keeps winning, everything else will take care of itself.
"We're not even worried about the BCS," he says. "We're just worrying about ourselves and trying to win a big game. As long as we stay focused and do what we've been doing and keep up the heart, we are going to be all right."
Georgia, ranked fifth in the coaches poll and eighth in the AP Poll, has been ranked as high as third during the 2004 season. The Bulldogs arguably have the most talent that Auburn will face all year, and stopping their offense that is scoring 31.8 points per game won't be easy.
"We just have to come out and execute the calls on defense, tackle well and hustle to the ball," Rosegreen says. "We can't give up any deep balls or big plays. As long as we don't do that I think we'll be all right.
"It's going to be a fight to the finish," he adds. "I know they're going to want it just like we want it. The better man is going to win."