Courtesy of SEC Sports
(Since this preview was written, it has been learned that three 5th-year Clemson seniors have been declared academically ineligible for this bowl game. They are LB Nick Watkins, the teams' leading tackler; LB Tramaine Billie, 3rd-leading tackler; and offensive RT Christian Capote, who started all 12 games. Additionally, LB Cortney Vincent could face suspension for a drunk driving arrest earlier this month).
Tommy Tuberville is in his ninth season at Auburn with a record of 79-33 (.705) and in his 13th season overall with a record of 104-53 (.662). The Tigers' offensive coordinator is Tony Franklin and the defensive coordinator is Will Muschamp.
Tommy Bowden is in his ninth season at Clemson with a record of 69-41 (.627) and in his 11th season overall with a record of 87-45 (.659). The Tigers' offensive coordinator is Rob Spence and the defensive coordinator is Vic Koenning.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN AUBURN HAS THE BALL
Brandon Cox is now third on Auburn's all-time passing yardage list with 6,748 yards. Cox is also tied for the lead among all active SEC quarterbacks in career victories with 26. Junior wide receiver Rodgeriqus Smith leads Auburn with 48 catches for 660 yards and five touchdowns. In the last seven games, Montez Billings has 26 catches for 303 yards and a score. Offensive tackle Lee Ziemba was named Freshmen All-America.
Michael Hamlin has a team-tying-high four interceptions and 83 tackles along with two recovered fumbles to give him a team-best six takeaways. Phillip Merling finished the season with a team best 16 tackles for loss and six sacks. He led the defensive line with 73 tackles, including 50 first hits in his 12 games.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN CLEMSON HAS THE BALL
Antonio Coleman is tied for 17th nationally in tackles for loss with 17, and also leads the Tigers in sacks (seven), which ranks sixth in the SEC. His 17 tackles for loss are the most by an Auburn player since 1995. Senior Quentin Groves ranks second among among active NCAA players in career sacks with 26, despite missing two games this season with an injury. Pat Sims finished the regular season with 32 tackles (24 solo, eight assists).
James Davis has rushed for 992 yards in 12 games, good for an average of 82.7 yard per contest. He is averaging 5.2 yards per carry and has scored nine rushing touchdowns. Aaron Kelly has already set the school record for receptions in a season with 84. He also has 1,045 receiving yards and a Tiger-record 11 receiving touchdowns. Cullen Harper has completed 67 percent of his passes for 2,887 yards and a school-record 27 touchdown passes against only six interceptions.
True freshman Wes Byrum has made 16 field goals in 21 attempts, including game winners from 43 yards on the final play at No. 4 Florida Sept. 29 and 20 yards with 21 seconds at Arkansas Oct. 13. Ryan Shoemaker ranks second in the SEC and 16th nationally in punting, averaging 43.2 yards per punt, while true freshman Patrick Tatum has averaged 43.4 yards per punt with nine of his 16 punts downed inside the 20-yard line.
C.J. Spiller, who had an 84-yard kickoff return for a score at Duke, has a 29.6 average, eighth best in the nation. He returned a kickoff for a touchdown in consecutive weeks against Duke and Wake Forest, the first player in Clemson history to do that. Mark Buchholz kicked five consecutive extra points in the win over Wake Forest and is now a perfect 46-46 on PATs this season.
Record: AU, 32-11-2 • Last: AU, 21-17 (1997 at Peach Bowl)
Auburn makes its eighth straight bowl appearance and 34th overall when the Tigers meet Clemson in the 2007 Chick-fil-A Bowl... It will be the fourth trip to the Atlanta-based bowl for Auburn and first since 2001 when North Carolina defeated Auburn, 16-10... The last time Auburn and Clemson played was also in the Peach Bowl (now the Chick-fil-A Bowl), with Auburn claiming a 21-17 victory on Jan. 2, 1998...Auburn's senior class has a chance to set the school record for victories in a four-year period with a win in the Chick-fil-A Bowl... A victory would be Auburn's 42nd in the last four years.