7:45 PM ET, October 30, 2004
Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, OXFORD, MS
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) -- Jason Campbell and Auburn earned some rest. After winning nine games in nine grueling weeks, the Tigers have something to celebrate -- and some extra time to party.
Campbell rushed for two touchdowns and threw for another as Auburn (No. 4 ESPN/USA Today, No. 3 AP) earned a spot in the Southeastern Conference championship game with a 35-14 win over Mississippi on Saturday night.
"We were running on fumes -- our players were pretty tired," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. "They scraped enough to get us a win."
Especially Campbell. The league's most efficient quarterback was 11-of-22 for 234 yards and had two 1-yard touchdown runs for the Tigers (9-0, 6-0), who scored 28 points after halftime to lock up the SEC West title before their first off week of the season.
The Tigers have won or shared four of the past five division crowns but are 0-2 in league championship games since the SEC split into divisions in 1992.
Some Auburn players celebrated their latest achievement by leaping into the orange-clad section of the crowd -- a la the Lambeau Leap -- and dancing in the end zone as flashbulbs popped in the stands.
"To finish it out in nine games says a lot about this team," said Campbell, a Mississippi native.
Florida beat the Tigers 28-6 in their most recent SEC title game appearance in 2000, when Campbell and some current Auburn seniors were freshmen.
"We would get to the end of the season and have the opportunity to go to Atlanta, and something just wouldn't work out," Campbell said.
This time, Auburn will play either Georgia (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 10 AP) or Tennessee (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) in the league title game in Atlanta -- and more importantly, the Tigers can keep dreaming of a perfect season and national title.
The Tigers are off next week before hosting Georgia and playing at Alabama. The SEC championship game is Dec. 4.
"We won't think about the BCS," Tuberville said. "Georgia and Alabama are enough to think about."
Tuberville hasn't lost in three games as a visitor to Oxford. He coached Ole Miss for four years but bolted for Auburn in 1998.
Ronnie Brown ran for 100 yards and a touchdown, and Carnell Williams had 96 yards rushing and a 29-yard TD run.
Campbell's 1-yard sneak with 0:26 left in the first half gave Auburn a 7-0 lead. His second short touchdown run early in the fourth quarter restored the Tigers' 14-point lead.
"You're having to be ready for the run all the time and the pass as well," Ole Miss defensive back Travis Johnson said. "They're a great team, and you've just got to stay focused in order to beat them."
Auburn never trailed, but the Rebels were thinking upset early in the fourth. Ethan Flatt's 25-yard touchdown pass to Taye Biddle pulled Ole Miss within seven.
That didn't last long. Williams set up Campbell's second TD when he returned a punt 38 yards to the Ole Miss 25. The Rebels didn't threaten the rest of the way.
Flatt was 12-of-20 for 225 yards and two touchdowns for Ole Miss (3-5, 2-3), which is in serious danger of missing the postseason. The Rebels must beat Arkansas, LSU and Mississippi State just to qualify for their third straight bowl.
"We know what the circumstances are," Ole Miss coach David Cutcliffe said. "The only way to approach this is to get through the open date and prepare well for Arkansas."
Flatt's 64-yard touchdown pass to Bill Flowers pulled the Rebels to 14-7, but Campbell answered with a 9-yard scoring pass to Courtney Taylor.
Ole Miss managed to keep it close in the first half because the Tigers seemed out of sync. Campbell threw seven straight incompletions during one ineffective stretch, and Auburn failed to score on a first-and-goal from the 2.
"It says something when you can win on the road in this conference and not play at full strength," Tuberville said. "We just made too many mistakes late in the third and fourth quarter."
But Auburn was too fast and too strong for the Rebels, who once again couldn't beat their former coach at home.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||3-11||4-14|
|4th Down Conversions||0-1||0-2|
|TD||0:26||JASON CAMPBELL 1 YD RUN (JOHN VAUGHN KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 99 yards.
|TD||13:02||RONNIE BROWN 2 YD RUN (JOHN VAUGHN KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 76 yards.
|TD||6:50||BILL FLOWERS 64 YD PASS FROM ETHAN FLATT (JONATHAN NICHOLS KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 75 yards.
|TD||2:43||COURTNEY TAYLOR 9 YD PASS FROM JASON CAMPBELL (JOHN VAUGHN KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 44 yards.
|TD||14:54||TAYE BIDDLE 25 YD PASS FROM ETHAN FLATT (JONATHAN NICHOLS KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 89 yards.
|TD||12:29||JASON CAMPBELL 1 YD RUN (JOHN VAUGHN KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 25 yards.
|TD||5:33||CARNELL WILLIAMS 29 YD RUN (JOHN VAUGHN KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 39 yards.