AUBURN, Ala. — The Auburn Tigers will walk into Mercedes-Benz Stadium this weekend for the SEC title game boasting a No. 4 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings.
Gus Malzahn’s team jumped two spots from No. 6 to No. 2 after toppling the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Iron Bowl in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Teams ahead of Auburn include Clemson (11-1), Oklahoma (11-1), and Wisconsin (12-0). The Tigers remain the highest two-loss team in the rankings.
Malzahn, his coaching staff and most importantly his players understand that defeating a talented Georgia team twice in a month will be the ultimate challenge. Still, Auburn feels confident after its 40-17 win weeks earlier.
Even after its loss at Auburn, Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs possess one of the nations best defenses (No. 4 total defense) and offenses (No. 9 rushing offense). Georgia will be looking to avoid a repeat of its last meeting against Auburn, during which rushers Sony Michel, Nick Chubb and the rest of Georgia’s backfield totaled 46 yards of rushing offense.
Compared to the 2013 season, when Auburn miraculously beat Georgia with a “Prayer in Jordan-Hare” and the “Kick Six,” the Tigers are “more stable.” The team and coaching staff’s maturity is a big part of this year’s success.
The Tigers are doing their best to stay focused on the days ahead rather than the possibilities that could unfold in the coming weeks. Still, Malzahn is making subtle points in his team’s favor.
“I mean, this is a great defense and what, it’ll be three out of the last four games we played we’ve played what top five defenses?” Malzahn said. “I mean I don’t know any other offenses having to do that.”
Both College Football Playoff semi-final games will be played on Jan. 1, 2018 (Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl, respectively).
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