for this game

Auburn sets itself up for stretch run with methodical win

Nov 4, 2006 - 10:40 PM AUBURN, Alabama (Ticker) -- Auburn had bigger things on its mind than Arkansas State. That was clear on Saturday but the Tigers won anyway.

The sixth-ranked Tigers committed four turnovers and let an overmatched Indians team hang around before posting a 27-0 victory in their final non-conference game of the season.

Auburn (9-1) now can turn its attention to the Southeastern Conference race and its outside shot at a berth in the national title game.

The Tigers have games with Georgia and Alabama remaining and trail Arkansas in the SEC West Division. With the Razorbacks still scheduled to face South Carolina, Tennessee and Louisiana State, Auburn still has a realistic shot at advancing to the SEC title game against Florida, which handed the Tigers their sole defeat.

"It was one of those games we were just trying to get through and get the win and get it over with," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. "Preseason is over with. We have 10 games behind us and nine wins. It has been good so far but those mean nothing with the two we have coming up."

Auburn committed two of its turnovers in the first half but still managed to open up a 13-0 lead. Brandon Cox threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Courtney Taylor and John Vaughn kicked a pair of field goals.

"We did a good job moving the ball, just like we have been, but today we did a better job of finishing drives," Cox said. "I would still like for us to be a little more efficient but today was better."

Carl Stewart helped Auburn put away the game in the third quarter, scoring on a one-yard run and a 19-yard pass from Cox to make it 27-0.

"I'm glad I could contribute a little bit on the scoreboard," Stewart said. "I try to help the team in any way possible."

Auburn, which was meeting Arkansas State for the first time, now is 12-0 all-time against Sun Belt Conference opponents.

"We came down here to compete and have an opportunity to win and obviously we did not get that done," Arkansas State coach Steve Roberts said. "We were proud of the effort of our players. We thought they played extremely hard."

The Indians (5-4) were outgained, 399-164, and picked up more than half of their yards in the fourth quarter with the Tigers' starters on the bench.

The shutout was Auburn's second of the year, giving the Tigers two in the same season for the first time since 2000 and improving them to 22-2 in non-conference home games under Tuberville.

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