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Previewing South Florida...

By Jay Coulter

Before we get started this morning, I want to let you know that I’m aware of some of you having issues posting comments. I’ve reported it and hope to have it cleared up soon. Shoot me an email if you continue to have problems. I appreciate your patience.

Auburn fans have feared this weekend all year. Talk to anyone this summer and they’d tell you the South Florida game scared them. For some reason nobody really feared Kansas State. Then again, nobody in Michigan feared Appalachian State.

After last week’s poor showing against the Wildcats, this week’s game has gone from "watch out for the letdown," to "man, this game is really big." There’s no mistake about it. This game is huge.

Why? A loss Saturday could be devastating for the psyche of this football team. A win would likely mean that Auburn heads to Gainesville at the end of the month undefeated and probably in the top 10. We know from history that you’ve got to go to Florida Field sky-high to have a chance.

Does anyone really know why so many practices have been closed this season? In past years, rarely has Tuberville closed practice with the exception of Alabama week. Now they are pretty much closed daily. I’m not sure what to read into this change of heart.

Good news for you American Idol fans. Idol winner and former Auburn student Taylor Hicks will perform at halftime of the Mississippi State game. OK, I admit it. I watch American Idol. But only because my 11 year-old daughter makes me. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Come on, admit it, you think it’s cool that he’s coming back to Auburn.

Taylor attended Auburn for three years and majored in Journalism. It’s safe to say that he’s the richest non-graduate or graduate journalism student to ever attend Auburn.

Let’s take a look at some of the game notes for Saturday’s contest with South Florida. This is some excellent information put together by Auburn Sports Information...

Saturday’s game will be televised by ESPN 2 starting at 8 p.m CT. Television announcers for the game will be Dave Barnett, Rod Gilmore and Joe Schad.

This marks the first meeting between the two schools. South Florida is coached by Jim Leavitt. You may remember him as one of about 25 coaches that have turned down the Alabama job in the last 10 years. He brings a 71-43 record into the game. This is his 11th season in Tampa.

Auburn has played just 15 games in its history against current members of the Big East Conference, and just two games during the Tommy Tuberville era (Syracuse in 2001-02).

Auburn has 21 players on its roster from the state of Florida, while South Florida has just one player on its roster from Alabama.

Defensive-end Quentin Groves needs just one more sack to equal the Auburn career record of 26 held by Gerald Robinson (1982-85).

Brandon Cox is the winningest quarterback in the SEC, with a 20-5 career record as a starting quarterback. Cox has started Auburn's last 22 games at quarterback and 25 of the last 26. Talk about no respect.

Under Tommy Tuberville, Auburn is 41-0 when scoring 30 or more points in a game. Auburn has won 46 consecutive games when scoring 30 or more points in a game.

Tommy Tuberville needs just three more victories to become the fifth coach in the SEC with 100 career coaching victories.

Auburn rallied from a 13-9 deficit late in the game to beat Kansas State 23-13, giving Auburn its first victory when trailing after three quarters in nearly three years. The last time Auburn won when trailing after three quarters was Sept. 18, 2004, when the Tigers scored a touchdown on a 16-yard pass from Jason Campbell to Courtney Taylor with 1:14 left for a 10-9 victory over No. 5 LSU.

South Florida Facts

South Florida is playing just its 11th season of football ... The Bulls played their first four seasons as a Division I-AA independent, became a I-A independent team in 2001, joined Conference USA in 2003 and moved to the Big East in 2005 ... South Florida defeated East Carolina, 24-7, in the Bowl to end the 2006 season ... South Florida was ranked 21st by The Sporting News in its 2007 preseason poll ... Freshman running back Mike Ford scored three touchdowns in his first game, leading the Bulls to a 28-13 victory over Elon last Saturday ... Sophomore George Selvie tied a USF single-game record with four sacks in the win vs. Elon ... Sophomore quarterback Matt Grothe was named the Big East Rookie of the Year in 2006 ... USF is 52-29 all-time in night games and 27-12 when the temperature is 80 degrees or higher at kickoff.