A college football team does not get to be ranked No. 4 in the country on luck. But being lucky sure helps maintain that ranking. Just ask Auburn coach Pat Dye, who is not shy about discussing his team's good fortune while compiling a 6-0-1 record this season.
"Our preacher's been working overtime this year," Dye said. "Yeah, we're lucky. We're not a bad football team, but we've been very fortunate also."
How lucky? This lucky:
The Tigers come back from a 26-9 fourth-quarter deficit to tie Tennessee at 26-26 when Stan White throws a fourth-down touchdown pass with about two minutes left. The game ends in a tie when Vols kicker Greg Burke misses a 34-yard field goal with 15 seconds left.
Auburn goes on a 74-yard drive in the final two minutes and kicker Jim Von Wyl nails a 30-yard field goal with five seconds left to nip Louisiana Tech 16-14.
Florida State contributes to its own downfall with a failed fumblerooski play that the Tigers recover midway through the fourth quarter. Auburn comes back with a 39-yard Von Wyl field goal with two seconds left for a 20-17 win.
Mississippi State pulls to within 17-16 against Auburn on a touchdown with two minutes remaining. Forsaking the two-point conversion, the Bulldogs opt for a game-tying kick. The extra-point attempt is blocked by Auburn linebacker Darrel Crawford and the Tigers hold on to win.
"I think this game will be our last gift from God," tailback Stacy Danley said after the Mississippi State win. "He has carried us through all year and now I think it is up to us."
Even some Florida players _ forgetting normal protocol regarding proper statements about upcoming opponents _ have been properly amazed by Auburn's knack for getting big plays late in the game.
"I'd have to say they've been lucky," wide receiver Terence Barber said. "They always come up with the big play when they need it at the end. If the game is close, the defense is going to do something to win it."
SEC hit list: Bobby Bowden has theorized that SEC teams are out to get the Seminoles because Florida State snubbed the league in favor of the ACC. UF coach Steve Spurrier, LSU coach Mike Archer and Dye all said Bowden's accusation was off the mark.
Dye, who said FSU players taunted his team in the last few meetings, said he didn't want to get into a verbal war on the subject. But the Auburn coach was persuaded to comment on Seminole linebacker Kirk Carruthers, who helped start a game-ending brawl with a late tackle against LSU Saturday.
"He's the worst linebacker _ who's supposed to be good _ we've faced since I've been at Auburn," Dye said. "If you don't believe me, just watch the game film and watch him get run over at the 3 by our freshman running back (Tony Richardson)."
Say what? Kentucky kicker Doug Pelfrey talking about pressure after he kicked a 32-yard field goal to beat Georgia 26-24 with seven seconds left Saturday:
"That's my job. That's what we get paid to do."
Wake-up call: When Tennessee was cruising along with a 5-0-1 record and a No. 3 national ranking, nobody was overly concerned about quarterback Andy Kelly's inconsistent play.
But a 9-6 upset loss to Alabama two weeks ago changed all that. The loss was like a cold slap in the face and Kelly has taken his share of verbal slaps from Vols fans lately. Even Tennessee coach Johnny Majors jumped off the Kelly bandwagon this week.
"Kelly needs to put his stamp on this team, take charge, put the captain's hat on and take off," Majors said. "It'll take the whole team, but he needs to put his stamp on it."
As a sophomore last season, Kelly was the second-rated passer in the SEC. Kelly, 22, is 10th in the league in passing efficiency this year.
Last words: Auburn linebacker Larry Young on Florida quarterback Shane Matthews: "We don't think he's all that great. He has great receivers. If he can get the ball in the vicinity, they'll pull it down."
Young, who went to Lakeland High, on Florida's heart: "Once they get down, they stay down. Once they get down, they give up."