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COMING SOON: The wait might soon be over for Auburn tailback Mario Fannin.

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The much-talked about redshirt freshman watched from the sidelines as the 17th-ranked Tigers struggled to get a running game going in a 23-13 win over Kansas State. Fannin could very well get his chance Saturday night against South Florida.

"Sooner or later, we've got to go ahead and say, 'Let's go. Go in there and see what you've learned,"' coach Tommy Tuberville said.

The Tigers may need help from Fannin thanks to the uncertain status of preseason No. 1 tailback Brad Lester, who remains suspended indefinitely for academic issues.

Starter Ben Tate gained 82 yards on 23 carries in the opener, and fullback-tailback Carl Stewart rushed seven times for just 5 yards.

Fannin was mostly idle.

"It's pretty tough," said the 5-foot-11, 219-pounder, who did have a kickoff return. "You've just got to learn from it. You shouldn't look at it as a negative issue. It's just time for me to continue learning. Everybody feels like they can help, but sometimes support is the way you can help. So I just supported the team."

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