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November 22, 2011Auburn defensive end Corey Lemonier does not normally use the word "hate" to describe his feelings towards an opponent.
But on Tuesday, four days before the annual Iron Bowl, the sophomore from Hialeah, Fla. made an exception.
"I'm not from Alabama, but being here just for one year, I hate them," said Lemonier.
And he's not the only one. Lemonier said the feelings towards the Tide runs rampant across the Tigers' defensive line, and that includes position coach Mike Pelton.
"Coach Pelton says he hates Alabama and we should hate them, too," said Lemonier. "And we do hate them. Everybody in that d-line room hates them."
Lemonier's animosity towards the Tide began in high school and grew during his first year at Auburn. He was part of the Tigers' 2010 team that overcame a 24-point deficit to beat Alabama 28-27 in Tuscaloosa.
"I really didn't like Alabama during recruiting, and then playing against them and hearing all of the trash talk last year made me hate them even more," he said.
Lemonier and Auburn will need more than hatred to beat the Tide for the second straight year. When Alabama arrives at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday, it will do so with a 10-1 record and a No. 2 ranking in the BCS.
Alabama will also have one of the nation's best running backs in Trent Richardson, and an offensive line that has helped pave the way for the Heisman candidate to rush for 1,380 yards and 20 touchdowns.
The key to winning, Lemonier said, is stopping Richardson and Alabama's running game, something that not many teams have been able to do.
"We just have to stop the run and make them one-dimensional," said Lemonier. "Trent Richardson is their biggest threat so we need to take him out of the game. Their offensive line is big and physical. We have to be physical right back and get after them.
"They run the ball and they are great at that. We just have to eliminate their run game."
Auburn has had success with stopping premier running backs. The Tigers held South Carolina's super sophomore Marcus Lattimore to just 66 yards in a 16-13 win in the third week of the season.
It will take a similar performance against Alabama if Auburn expects to have a chance to win. Las Vegas odds makers don't think the Tigers can do it. Auburn is currently a 21-point underdog.
"That doesn't bother me," said Lemonier. "You just have to play and prove everybody wrong. It's good to be the underdog.
"We just have to be mentally prepared. We have to be fundamentally sound and do our jobs. Everybody is going to have to gang tackle. That is what it is going to take to win this game."