Date published: Sunday, October 24, 2004
AUBURN, Ala. -- The third-ranked Auburn Tigers have a shiny Cadillac that can bob and weave his way through traffic and pick up major mileage in a hurry.
When it comes time to race with the big boys, however, the Kentucky football team doesn't appear to have even a Pinto sitting in its garage.Auburn senior running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams ran for 149 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries yesterday as the Tigers jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead, withstood a temporary shift in momentum, and coasted to a 42-10 win over the Wildcats in front of 85,263 fans at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The 5-foot-11, 210-pound Williams gained more yards than the entire UK offense, which amassed just 110 in redshirt freshman quarterback Andre Woodson's first career start.
"He's the real deal," UK defensive coordinator Mike Archer said of Williams. "He looked great on film, and he's even scarier in person. There were times we had an eighth defender in the box and still didn't touch him."
And UK defenders in the open field often had direct lines to make plays on Williams only to find themselves eating turf.
"He's one of those guys that can run you over, run by you, and juke you," said UK freshman linebacker Wesley Woodyard.
"You want to try and stay low when you hit him, but then all he does is make another move," said UK cornerback Antoine Huffman.
Throw in 53 yards and two touchdowns by Auburn's other back, senior Ronnie Brown, and it adds up to the best rushing tandem in the country, Kentucky defensive lineman Ellery Moore said.
"Oh, yeah, by far," Moore said. "Both of those guys will be playing on Sundays. They're the best running backs I've seen the whole time I've been here."
Auburn started the game as if they were going to hit triple figures.
UK went three-and-out on the first possession, and Sevin Sucurovic's 15-yard shank on the ensuing punt gave the Tigers the ball with first-and-10 at the Kentucky 29.
That short field set up Williams' first touchdown run, and the Cats followed that by going three-and-out once again. Sucurovic then misfired on another punt, a 29-yarder that gave Auburn the ball at the UK 36 and led to another Williams score midway through the first quarter to put Kentucky in a quick 14-0 hole.
"That was one of the worst starts to a football game that I've ever been around," UK Coach Rich Brooks said. "Each week it's a different problem. The offense came out skittish, and the punter just killed us in the first quarter."
On Kentucky's next possession, Woodson was sacked and coughed the ball up at his own 19, and Brown scored on a 12-yard run two plays later to make it 21-0.
Woodson did direct UK on a 14-play, 80-yard scoring drive to start the second quarter. And a Taylor Begley 37-yard field goal following Trey Mielsch's recovery of Jason Campbell's fumble brought the Cats to within 21-10 with 13:16 left in the third quarter.
But Cadillac shifted it into high gear once again, ripping off a 36-yard run to the Kentucky 31 before handing the wheel to Brown, who scored on a 17-yard run to push the score to 28-10.
Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville called off the dogs after third-string tailback Carl Stewart's short run gave the Tigers a 35-10 cushion late in the third. Williams, Brown and Campbell all sat out the entire fourth quarter.
The Tigers (8-0, 5-0 SEC) will now continue their quest for a national title with games against Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama.
"We got the win," Tuberville said. "When you're in control of a game like that, there is not a whole lot of emotion or enthusiasm. We played a lot of players and gave guys a chance to rest up for the upcoming weeks."
UK, meanwhile, dropped to 1-6 and now must travel to Starkville to face a resurgent Mississippi State team fresh off a 38-31 upset of Florida.
"That's a big win for (MSU Coach) Sylvester (Croom) and that program," Brooks said. "That looked like a game that would be even going in; now I'm sure they'll be the favorites."