Georgia allowed the Razorbacks 77 rushing yards on only 2.8 yards per attempt.
“Last year, we played them late in the season. I don’t think they’d given up a rushing touchdown all season,” Malzahn said. “We had one on a quarterback run. They’ve got just about everybody back, so you’re looking at not just one of the best rushing defenses — if not the best rushing defense — in the country, but one of the best overall defenses.”
When the two teams met last year, Auburn scored 14 points in the fourth quarter after being down 21-0 to make things close late in the game. The Bulldogs sacked Nix on the Tigers' last drive to keep them from completing a comeback, but it was Nix’s strong performance that got Auburn back in the game.
On Saturday, Auburn will need a similar performance from Nix to put pressure on Georgia’s defense. Last year, Nix passed for 245 yards and one touchdown, and added the aforementioned rushing touchdown as well.
“You have to have everything available against a good defense, whether it’s run, pass or whatever," Malzahn said. "Bo did some really good things last year. It was a tough loss. ... I felt that in the fourth quarter we had a really good chance with his leadership.”
Auburn opened this week as a one-touchdown underdog, and Malzahn is no stranger to the challenges that come with playing in Athens. Though Sanford Stadium won’t be close to capacity, the Tigers are preparing for a loud crowd that’ll make things difficult.
This will be the earliest Auburn and Georgia have met since the rivalry’s first game in February 1892. But Malzahn knows that regardless of when these two teams play, the game is always important.
“It feels exactly as it would in November,” Malzahn said. “We know how important it is. This game usually has a direct effect on the East and the West (divisions in the SEC). It doesn’t matter if we’re playing today or in November or in March.”