tampabay.com

Auburn starts season off right for a change

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published September 3, 2006


AUBURN, Ala. - Kenny Irons helped Auburn sidestep the opening jitters that have plagued the Tigers in recent years.

Irons rushed for 183 yards, including a 58-yard touchdown scamper to open the third quarter, and the fourth-ranked Tigers beat Washington State 40-14 Saturday night.

They avoided another round of season-opening blues with an array of big runs from Irons, big kicks from John Vaughn and big passes from quarterback Brandon Cox.

Auburn had lost three of its past four openers, but will enjoy its highest preseason ranking since 1990 at least another week.

Irons had 20 carries and also caught three passes for 40 yards for a career high in all-purpose yards. He opened Auburn's first drive with a 42-yard carry and never stopped pounding away at the Cougars.

His only misstep came on his biggest play. Irons slowed down around the 5-yard line at the end of his field-reversing 58-yarder to taunt pursuing defender Tyrone Brackenridge and nearly stepped out of bounds, but the play stood after a review by instant replay officials.

The defense hounded Wash-ington State quarterback Alex Brink from the start, sacking him on three of the Cougars' first four plays. Brink passed for 2,891 yards last season but only 67 against the Tigers, completing 11-of-24 with a touchdown and an interception.

No. 6 USC 50, Ark. 14

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - John David Booty threw three touchdowns in the second half in the Trojans' first game since Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart moved on to the NFL. The Trojans beat Arkansas 70-17 last year, but they needed a little help getting started this time. The Razorbacks provided it with five turnovers - three while the game was still in doubt.

Arkansas running back Felix Jones fumbled three times in the first half, and USC recovered two of them. Kevin Thomas returned Jones' last fumble 12 yards to the Arkansas 3. After an incompletion, freshman C.J. Gable ran for a touchdown to give USC a 10-0 lead.

The Trojans led 16-7 at halftime, and Terrell Thomas' interception early in the third quarter gave USC the ball at the Arkansas 28. Booty's 14-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Turner made it 23-7. Booty went 24-of-35 for 261 yards and made few mistakes as he begins the challenge of replacing Leinart, the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner, at quarterback. Arkansas' Robert Johnson went 12-of-25 for 110 yards with two interceptions.

No. 8 LSU 45, Louisiana-Lafayette 3

BATON ROUGE, La. - JaMarcus Russell's second pass of the game was a 58-yarder for a touchdown, and he had two more scoring passes in the first half to send the Tigers to victory.

He finished 13-of-17 for 253 yards, validating second-year coach Les Miles' decision to make him the starter over Matt Flynn and high-profile recruit Ryan Perrilloux.

Russell threw touchdowns of 16 yards to Early Doucet and 28 yards to Dwayne Bowe in the second quarter, putting LSU ahead 28-3 at the half.

From that point on, the most excitement in the stadium came when NBA star and LSU graduate Shaquille O'Neal was honored on the field during halftime and given a No. 33 football jersey, the same number he wore with the Tigers' basketball team.

No. 15 Georgia, Western Kentucky 12

ATHENS, Ga. - Joe Tereshinski threw for 90 yards and a touchdown and two other Bulldogs quarterbacks saw playing time. Tereshinski, who won a four-way battle for the starter's job, finished 7-of-17, including a 17-yard touchdown pass to Mario Raley for a 14-0 lead. Joe Cox entered in the second with Georgia leading 24-0 and completed 2-of-3 for 29 yards with an interception.

Tereshinski returned in the third before Matthew Stafford, the Bulldogs' top recruit, directed two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter. "Right now Joe T. is definitely No. 1 and we'll just compete to see who is No. 2," coach Mark Richt said.

ALABAMA 25, HAWAII 17: John Parker Wilson's stock is on the rise with Tide coach Mike Shula. The sophomore threw for 253 yards and a touchdown in his first collegiate start and Alabama got a late defensive stand to hold off the Warriors in Tuscaloosa. Leigh Tiffin added three field goals for the Tide, which had two apparent touchdowns overturned on replay challenges by Hawaii.

STANDINGS

EAST

Conference Season

W L W L

South Carolina 1 0 1 0

Florida 0 0 1 0

Georgia 0 0 1 0

Tennessee 0 0 1 0

Kentucky 0 0 0 0

Vanderbilt 0 0 0 1

West

Alabama 0 0 1 0

Auburn 0 0 1 0

LSU 0 0 1 0

Mississippi 0 0 0 0

Arkansas 0 0 0 1

Mississippi State 0 1 0 1

Saturday

Michigan 27, Vanderbilt 7

Georgia 48, West. Kentucky 12

Tennessee 35, California 18

Florida 34, Southern Miss 7

Alabama 25, Hawaii 17

Auburn 40, Washington St. 14

LSU 45, La. Lafayette 3

Southern Cal 50, Arkansas 14

Thursday

South Carolina 15, Mississippi St. 0

Today

Memphis at Mississippi, 4:30

Kentucky at Louisville, 8

Saturday, Sept. 9

Mississippi at Missouri, 12:30

Auburn at Mississippi St., 12:30

Vanderbilt at Alabama, 3:30

Texas St. at Kentucky, 6

UCF at Florida, 6

Arizona at LSU, 6:30

Air Force at Tennessee, 7

Utah St. at Arkansas, 7

Georgia at South Carolina, 7:45