FOXBORO, Mass. — As the wins have mounted on a weekly basis for Auburn and Oregon, college football's top-ranked teams for a significant portion of the season, the trash talk has escalated between a pair of friends in the Patriots' locker room.
Cornerback Jonathan Wilhite, an Auburn alum, and safety Patrick Chung, who went to Oregon, have been eying a national championship meeting for awhile now. And the pair, whose lockers are next door to one another, have been chirping at each other more and more as that possibility has turned closely into a reality.
"Every day, we talk crap every day," Chung said. "We're having a big season, man, and we've dug until the end. So I'm watching all the way to the end."'
Each team has one final test Saturday. Oregon visits Oregon State, while Auburn plays South Carolina in the SEC Championship. If Auburn and Oregon take care of business, there might be a civil war among friends in Foxboro.
"We're just trying to get past South Carolina right now, take it one week at a time," said Wilhite, who preferred to take the Patriots' approach while talking about his Tigers. "We've talked about it, but we'll talk more about it when it gets here."
Wilhite didn?t want to take anything for granted, especially after watching Auburn fall behind Alabama, 24-0, before rallying for a dramatic win in last week's Iron Bowl.
"It was tough, man. It was tough because it was going to be hard to come to work and face the Alabama gang," Wilhite said of teammates Brandon Deaderick and Lorenzo Washington, who is on the practice squad. "You've just got to be able to get down sometimes, and they got down early. I just stuck with them. I was nervous, but they pulled it through for me."
Of course, Wilhite was the one who made it tough for the 'Bama crowd to show up at the office during the Patriots' next work day.
Regardless of the outcome in the national championship, Wilhite and Chung have enjoyed their respective team's run to this point in the season.
"I've pretty much been able to watch every game and see the goods and the bad," Wilhite said. "Everything has been going smooth for them, going in the right direction for them. I'm proud to see [head coach Gene] Chizik has the guys moving, and you can see it out there in their game play. They're coached pretty good, and he's actually who recruited me to come to Auburn. It's been a good thing for them in Auburn this year. I'm proud of them."
"I love it every weekend. I love it," Chung said. "That?s the Oregon Ducks. That?s where I came from. I'm rooting for them."