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Auburn wary of South Florida's upset track record

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AP Sports Writer

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) - Sorry, South Florida. You're not likely to catch No. 17 Auburn by surprise.

The Tigers are well aware of your upsets of highly ranked teams the past two seasons entering Saturday night's meeting, and can hardly feel overconfident after their own uninspired opening game anyway.

``In recent years, they've had a bunch of big wins,'' Auburn running back Carl Stewart said of the Bulls. ``They've played a lot of big teams very closely. They're not going to come in here afraid of us just because we're Auburn.

``They're going to come in here with the mind-set that they can beat us.''

And they probably can, especially if the Tigers can't get their offense untracked.

Just ask West Virginia, which was ranked seventh when the Mountaineers were upset by South Florida late last season. Or how about then-No.9 Louisville, which was routed 45-14 in 2005.

And Auburn doesn't exactly boast a high-powered offense like those teams.

``This team has proven that they can beat a lot of big-name opponents,'' Tigers defensive end Quentin Groves said. ``If you go into this thing thinking you're going to blow this team out, you've got another think coming.''

So the aw-shucks, we're just happy to play in front of 87,000 fans at a Southeastern Conference stadium thing doesn't really wash for South Florida. Even if the decade-old program is 0-4 against SEC teams. They'll offer it up anyway.

``It's one of those games you always dream about when you're a kid,'' said South Florida quarterback Matt Grothe, who outplayed West Virginia's Pat White last season. ``Now, I get the chance to see if we can go up there and put together a win.''

Neither team was particularly impressive in their openers. South Florida beat Elon 28-13. Auburn needed two touchdowns - one a defensive score - in the final 2:01 to pull away from Kansas State 23-13.

``I think you'll see two different teams out there in how they play and how each team executes,'' Tuberville said.

He's hoping so, having already seen what South Florida can do to more high-profile teams. The Auburn coach is also figuring the Bulls to be contenders in the Big East Conference soon, if not this year.

For Auburn, that means getting the running game going and protecting Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox, who was knocked around by Kansas State the whole game. That's a challenge going against defensive end George Selvie, who had four sacks and six tackles for loss against Elon.

The biggest test for South Florida and quarterback Matt Grothe will be scoring against a stingy Auburn defense that has kept the Tigers in games the past two seasons while the offense at times sputtered. Selvie, for one, isn't too concerned about that.

``I think our offense will show up,'' he said. ``They're going to come out strong. They know how bad we need this game. This is the biggest game of our life right now, and our offense is going to step up and the defense, too.''

Tuberville praised the versatile Grothe and his receivers, a group that includes former Auburn player Courtney Denson.

``They've got maybe the best group of receivers we'll see all year long, no matter who we play,'' he said. ``They've got some big guys who can run, make plays.

``And I'm sure they're looking to improve on last week. They had some problems as well as the rest of us across the country, in some areas. They've got a lot of potential, in terms of big playmakers. And it starts with their quarterback.''


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Nice article. And no one is going to be able to say that Auburn was looking ahead if we win.

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