Obomanu shines in Championship

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 6, 2004

ATLANTA – Senior quarterback Jason Campbell dropped back and heaved the ball down the left sideline to a streaking Ben Obomanu.

As the ball floated through the air, Tennessee fans howled for the defense to get the ball back.

They knew Auburn’s offense needed one more big play to knock the Vols out for good.

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The junior receiver from Selma toasted a pair of Vol defenders, snatched the ball cleanly and in stride and raced the final steps to the end zone where he collapsed. The 43-yard touchdown bomb proved to be the backbreaker, lifting Auburn to the SEC title, the Tigers first in 15 years.

“Everybody comes to college with the hopes and dreams of becoming an SEC champion,” Obomanu said. “Some guys only get this one time in a lifetime and we’re just glad to be able to take advantage of our opportunity to come and play.”

Obomanu and the Tigers passing game took advantage of more than that.

They abused the undermanned Tennessee secondary all night long.

Campbell passed for 374 yards and three TD’s.

Courtney Taylor, who beat the Vol coverage like a rented mule, finished with six catches for 111 yards and a touchdown. Obomanu finished with six catches for 93 yards. He caught his third TD pass against Tennessee in as many games over the last two years.

“We realized that last came (the running game) did a lot to them,” he said. “To help us win the game we realized that our side we needed to make big plays. Playing a team like that and being able to score every time, your confidence just goes up and up and up. I believe the coaches realized that some of the (defensive backs) over there I could take advantage of and certainly we’ve taken advantage of it for the last three games.”

The former Selma High star made many of the Tigers catches in traffic and took some big hits, including one in the first quarter deep in UT territory from the Vols’ lone hitter in the backfield, junior Jason Allen.

“It gets you fired up. The coaches always said the SEC is the most physical conference in the United States of America and tonight they kind of proved it,” he said. “I wanted to take some licks and everything.

Coach said taking some licks would get the jitters out.”

Still, as the celebration raged around, there were questions of the Tigers’ future.

As one of three undefeated major teams in the country, Auburn will be on the outside of the BCS title game.

“It doesn’t matter,” Obomanu said. “Regardless of everybody else, we did our job, took care of our business. We know deep down inside we are champions.”