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Monday, September 28, 2009

Tigers' great start faces litmus test at Tennessee

I wrote a story today about Auburn's 4-0 start and whether that means the Tigers are for real. Here's how it starts:

AUBURN, Ala. — Gene Chizik has a favorite phrase when things are going either a little too good or too bad in a game, something his Auburn players recite at every opportunity.

He calls those situations impostors.

“Things that show up in the game that look one way but aren’t necessarily so,” Chizik said. “It’s not about a person. It’s about an event or a situation that can appear to make you think one thing and if you let it, then you can go into the tank.”

It begs a larger question as Auburn is now one-third of the way through the season: is the Tigers’ 4-0 start against less-than-stellar competition an impostor?

Auburn will certainly have a better answer after it travels to Neyland Stadium this Saturday night to play Tennessee, the team’s first road game and biggest challenge to date after opening with four straight home games against Louisiana Tech, Mississippi State, West Virginia and Ball State, who are a combined 5-9 this year.

“A lot of guys need to grow up,” wide receiver Tim Hawthorne said. “It will be a huge challenge for us up there. That is a hostile environment in Knoxville. Everyone tells us. And we’re going to know it. Hopefully once we get there, we just hope that we’re mentally prepared throughout the week for these guys.”

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