AUBURN — Craig Stevens has seen it all now.
The senior linebacker who played on a losing Auburn team just two years ago is now on an Auburn team that is ranked No. 1 in this week’s Bowl Championship Series standings.
The only unbeaten team in the Southeastern Conference achieved that lofty status Sunday night thanks to the computer portion of the BCS that lavished points on the only team that has beaten four teams currently in the Top 25. The only other BCS-ranked team with more than one Top 25 win is Wisconsin, which has two.
Demetruce McNeal, Onterio McCalebb and Darvin Adams celebrate with Auburn students after beating LSU (Birmingham News / Hal Yeager)
Auburn is ranked No. 1 in a major poll for the first time since September of 1985 when the Tigers were first in the AP poll.
Auburn players took it all in Sunday night.
“It means a lot, especially for the guys who have been here for the five-win season,” Stevens said.
Defensive back Zac Etheridge was barely out of practice when the news spread through the team.
“Everybody’s tweeting about it right now,” he said.
Coach Gene Chizik acknowledged his players will hear about the ranking on campus.
“I can only control how we proceed in this building,” Chizik said. “We just had a team meeting and we talked about being very grounded and understanding that every week is another new week and another opportunity.”
But Etheridge, Stevens and other players said they’d heed the advice given by Chizik earlier in the day.
“Coach says we can’t focus on that, because once you start to do that, that’s when the team starts to backslide because you think you’re more ready than you really are,” Stevens said. “We just go out every day and try to make improvements as a team, and once we do that everything will handle itself.”
Auburn, a surprising 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the Southeastern Conference, will put its No. 1 ranking on the line Saturday at Ole Miss. The Tigers will be looking to fare better than the last three No. 1s.
Oklahoma, this season’s first BCS No. 1, lost to Missouri on Saturday. The week before, AP No. 1 Ohio State lost to Wisconsin. The week before that, AP No. 1 Alabama lost to South Carolina.
Alabama is the highest ranked team in the BCS this week with a loss. The 7-1 Tide is No. 7.