AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- Auburn clearly is not the team it was in
Georgia Tech intercepted Brandon Cox four times in the second
half for a 23-14 opening victory Saturday night and once again
played the spoiler against the 16th-ranked Tigers.
Auburn little resembled last season's 13-0 team that finished
No. 2 nationally and loudly complained about its omission from the
title game before sending backfield stars Jason Campbell, Carnell
Williams and Ronnie Brown into the first round of the NFL draft.
The Tigers' winning streak, the nation's third longest, ended at
15 games, hours after both Southern California (23) and Utah (17)
kept their streaks going.
"We made a lot of mistakes we shouldn't have," Auburn coach
Tommy Tuberville said.
They sure did.
And Georgia Tech was too strong of an opening opponent to let
the Tigers get away with it. The Yellow Jackets, who beat two
ranked teams last season, also sent Auburn to a lowpoint of its
troubled 2003 season with a 17-3 win.
They were confident they wouldn't be another victim in Auburn's
"Everybody outside the locker room thought that was going to
happen," Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey said. "The only people
who thought we were going to win are in that locker room."
P.J. Daniels ran for 111 yards and a touchdown and Travis Bell
kicked a 21-yard field goal with 1:32 left, his second of the
The Yellow Jackets one-upped the nation's top scoring defense of
last year, allowing Cox to pass for 342 yards in his first Auburn
start but forcing him into costly mistakes with a blitzing defense
that never allowed the Tigers' running game to get untracked.
"For a while there we were giving up too many short passes and
they started to get into a flow," said Gerris Wilkinson, who set
up the decisive field goal with a 33-yard interception return.
"Toward the end, we got a lot of turnovers -- that's what saved
Bell locked up the win with a 28-yard field goal with 1:32
remaining. It was the Yellow Jackets' third pick in Auburn
Reggie Ball passed for 174 yards and a touchdown for Georgia
Auburn managed 40 yards rushing in that 2003 game and just 50
this time, the fewest since then.
Cox was 22-of-44 passing with two touchdowns, but lost a late
fumble in addition to the four interceptions. Auburn's failure to
establish a running game made life tougher for the sophomore's
"He looked great tonight. He had some mistakes, and some of the
mistakes were not his fault," Tuberville said. "We needed to be a
better running team to stretch them out. We just have to take it a
little at a time and run the ball better to help balance our
Cox insisted he wasn't suffering from a bad case of nerves after
the former Alabama Mr. Football waited three years for his shot.
"It was more adrenaline than anything. I wasn't nervous. I was
just ready to go," he said. "It was a great experience to be out
there tonight. I just have to learn not to make mistakes."
The Tigers self-destructed late, compounding Cox's third
interception with a personal foul and 15-yard facemask penalty
midway through the fourth.
Joe Anoai struck Cox's arm just as he was throwing and KaMichael
Hall snagged the wobbly pass deep in Georgia Tech territory.
The 30 yards in penalties gave the Yellow Jackets the ball at
Auburn's 36 but the drive went backward thanks to a penalty and a
Auburn was nearing field-goal position when Cox threw two of his
interceptions and another set up a 21-yard field goal by Bell with
10:16 to play.
Trailing 17-14, the Tigers got no points out of two long drives
in the third quarter, with one drive ending on downs and another on
an interception by Dawan Landry.