Auburn has found winning formula

Updated: October 19, 2003, 3:05 PM ET

AUBURN, Ala. -- Carnell Williams kept scoring, Brandon Jacobs kept churning out yards, and Auburn's speedy, aggressive defense kept pushing Mississippi State backward.

The 17th-ranked Tigers continued to look every bit the Southeastern Conference contender Saturday, beating Mississippi State 45-13 for their fifth straight victory.

"It'd be hard for anybody in the country to beat us," said Jacobs, a junior college transfer who gained 182 yards on 31 carries.

It was only the second most impressive performance by an Auburn tailback on Saturday. Williams set a school record with six touchdown runs, getting five in the first half as Auburn (5-2, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) raced to a 38-7 lead.

He's been one of the nation's hottest running backs in the past three weeks, posting three straight performances of 150-plus yards.

It makes Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville glad he's no longer a defensive coordinator.

"He's gotten in a zone the past few weeks and nobody's gotten the right combination to stop him yet," Tuberville said. "It's fun to have him on our side. If I was a defensive coordinator, I'd be worried to death about playing him."

The Tigers rushed for 405 yards on 56 carries, the program's highest total since gaining 413 against Florida State in 1985. The Tigers had 410 total yards before halftime, 286 on the ground.

"We're going to run the football until people stop us," Tuberville said. "It's devastating to a team when they're giving up 4 or 5 yards rushing a down."

Auburn, which has outscored its past five opponents by a combined 176-47, didn't even need backup Ronnie Brown. A 1,000-yard rusher last season, he has missed the past two games with a pulled hamstring.

Jacobs' presence made that a moot point. He had only 30 carries coming into the game, but didn't do much to hurt his average of 6.7 yards per run.

Jacobs was the table-setter several times, moving Auburn downfield to set up Williams' record-setting 6-yard touchdown run.

"I was so happy for him," Jacobs said. "He came back to the sideline and said, 'Brandon, I'm going crazy."

The Tigers visit No. 9 LSU on Saturday, having already beaten two Top 10 teams in recent weeks in Tennessee and Arkansas. Both teams were ranked seventh when Auburn played them.

The Bulldogs (2-5, 1-2) are heading in a different direction to start coach Jackie Sherrill's farewell tour. Sherrill announced Friday that he would retire after the season, but said he wouldn't elaborate on his decision until his weekly news conference on Monday.

He watched his team controlled on both lines of scrimmage.

"Their offensive line dominated Tennessee up front, and they truly dominated us," Sherrill said. "If the offensive line played that well the first two games, they would be undefeated."

The Tigers defense was pretty good, too. Mississippi State was continuously pushed into third-and-long situations and converted only 1 of 12 third down plays.

Auburn had 12 tackles for loss, including four sacks, and harried quarterback Kevin Fant into an 8-for-22 performance.

"They knocked me dizzy," Fant said. "They are a great, big, hard-hitting team."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index