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Malzahn says Auburn has Game Face On and is “Locked In” for Peach Bowl

By on December 30th, 2017 in Football, News 7 Comments »

Gus Malzahn says Auburn more focused about Peach Bowl than previous bowl trips (photo:USA TODAY Sports)

Christmas came and went in a hurry this year. It seems like only last week that Auburn was finishing off Alabama in the Iron Bowl, and now we are staring down the barrel of the final game of the year.

The college football season goes by too fast. We’ll try to make the most of this last weekend here at Track’ Em Tigers.

I hope all of you had a very Merry Christmas. I surely did. As much as I love the holidays, though, it’s good to get back to thinking about Auburn football. This entire weekend should be a lot of fun, most especially watching the Tigers in the Peach Bowl.

All of the players made it safely to Atlanta. Unlike other games, the players are responsible for getting themselves to the bowl site. I always hold my breath that they’ll all make it on time and safely.

Auburn didn’t waste anytime moving away from Christmas festivities to bowl business. There was a mandatory team meeting followed by a film session to break down the UCF schemes.

In the team’s final practice today, Auburn All-American cornerback Carlton Davis did not participate and is not expected to play Monday due to an illness. That is not good news for a secondary facing McKenzie Milton who is second only to Heisman winner Baker Mayfield as the best quarterback in the nation.

The good news is Jarrett Stidham is pretty darn good as well. And added to that is the news that running back Kerryon Johnson is expected to play. The SEC’s leading rusher said this week he feels 100 percent.

Some fans are a bit apathetic about the Tigers making yet another trip to play in Atlanta, but this game brings much more excitement than say a trip to an Outback Bowl. For one, Auburn gets to play in one of the Top Six New Year’s Day bowl games. And second, to play against an interesting opponent in UCF, the only undefeated team in the nation. The chance to win their third game in the last five against an undefeated opponent and finish with 11 wins could make for a special ending to this season.

Gus Malzahn seems to agree.

“There have been some real special moments [this year],” Gus said, “and a victory would cap that off that this team will be remembered for a long time to come.”

“We have been talking about our program is set up for long-term success,” said Malzahn. “There are opportunities you have to accelerate that and I think our leaders get that—not just for this year, but for next year as far as a team that is taking the next step that gets the bigger picture of the future of the program.” Couldn’t agree more. It’s time this team took the next step.

Picking bowl game winners is always difficult. With teams taking so much time off, it’s not always the best team that wins, but rather the team that can shake off the rust and get ready to play.

By the time Auburn and Central Florida take the field, it will have been 30 days since either team played a game.

One thing is certain: Auburn is taking UCF very seriously—and it should. This is a good football team that has an explosive offense that will be a test for our talented defense.

“They’re the No. 1 scoring offense in the country,” said Malzahn. “They’ve earned that. They’ve got a lot of weapons. Any time you’re undefeated, that is a very, very special thing. So they’ve got everything going for them, and it’s been impressive to watch from the outside.”

“But our guys are locked in,” Gus said. “We are here with our game face on… This is a very important game for us, to finish this season off the right way.” Let’s hope Gus has them ready to finish it right.


  1. uglyjoe says:

    Happy New Year Jay… War Eagle!

  2. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..I’m loving this weekend, so far. Was a little concerned about the SEC’s bowl matchups. Mizzou got hammered by a 7-5 Texas team. Then Kentucky got a bogus ejection on their best player, and lost to Northwestern by one point. Texas A&M got badly dunked. SEC started 0-3 this year in the bowls. I was afraid it was going to be 0-4, today.

    ……Mississippi State lost their coach to Florida a few weeks ago, and had interim coach Greg Knox in charge, to go up against Louisville and last year’s Heisman winner Lamar Jackson. I expected this one to be pretty one-sided. Instead, MSU came out and punched the Cardinals in the mouth. Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino didn’t have his usual play-calling mojo working, as the Bulldog defense disrupted things early and often. I’m guessing it’s Petrino’s new glasses. He looked about as dorky as one of the Three Stooges, in this one.

    ……Kudos to Knox and company. MSU took a rookie starting QB into this one, and beat Lamar Jackson. It was an inspired SEC win, that wasn’t really as close as the score indicated. The Bulldogs made a ton of mistakes to keep letting Louisville back into it.

    …..The SEC is currently 1-3, with 5 games or more remaining, depending upon what the playoff teams do. If I were a betting man, the Outback matchup of South Carolina and Michigan is a tossup, at best. However, the Wolverines have had quarterback issues all season, and they get Will Muschamp’s crazy blitzes in this one.

    …..I like Auburn’s chances against Central Florida in the Peach. Likewise, I think LSU will handle Notre Dame in the Citrus. In the Rose, Georgia will have their hands full, if ill-Okie quarterback Baker Mayfield isn’t still really sick. Auburn got torn up pretty badly by Mayfield about this time last year, and I’m glad we aren’t playing those guys again!

    …..Bama vs. Clemson in the Sugar will be really interesting. Bama had just one week to prepare for those guys last year, and they did it with the drama of offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin being given the heave-ho during championship week prep. WIth a month to work on schemes, I’d expect Saban and Brent Venables to have quite the chess match. I’d not be surprised by a 3-0 score, in this one, with either team winning.

    • WarSamEagle WarSamEagle says:

      Love reading your take on the bowls Acid. When it comes to Qb’s on New Year’s day, I’m pulling for Jarrett Stidham, Kelly Bryant and Baker Mayfield in that order.

      Beat UCF!!!!

  3. Tigerpharm says:

    I too love the bowl games especially from the 30th thru New Year’s Day. As for the Peach Bowl, I think Auburn needs all hands on deck and I hate that Carlton Davis can’t play. But maybe the D-Line will disrupt Milton so much that Davis absence won’t hurt too much. Also hopefull that Kerryon is truly 100% healthy and we can outscore them.

  4. Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

    Always good to read a Jay Coulter column. I’m a little nervous over the game but then that’s pretty much the way I feel about most of them. Glad to hear the team is taking it seriously. Excited to have tickets and will be leaving in the morning.

    Beat UCF!

  5. ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

    I’m still excited about the Peach Bowl – and look forward to being there!
    Section 108 if anyone wants to try and meet before the game or at halftime.
    I’ve been a bit out-of-pocket the past couple of weeks with travel during Christmas and my wife having knee surgery (all is good) this past Thursday so haven’t been able to compose thoughts enough to post. She will be at the game tomorrow albeit with a bit of a limp.
    Now, don’t get me wrong, I would certainly have been okay with one of the top four spots.
    If AU had won the SECCG, I think we would have been number four and playing in the Big Easy again. I posted this on another thread but will again state how much fun it was to spend New Years Eve in the Big Easy!
    But get to spend this NYE at home with the wifey and I’m all okay with that!!


    AU 48 – UCF 24 (if that much) – just don’t think they have seen a “real” defense, I hope I’m not proven wrong.

  6. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..I’m excited, too. I’m home with all of my family, and we had another great New Year’s Eve family game night. Shot off 6 mortar shells that elicited screams of surprise from neighbors, then quickly got back indoors! Kinda cold, this evening. The freezing rain fizzled, and all is good. I produced the usual turnip greens, black-eyes, and since I was craving it, homemade mac ‘n’ cheese, and grilled some steaks out with the night-before-super-moon keeping watch.

    …..My open thread for tomorrow morning’s game is already in the can, loaded, and scheduled. We cracked open a nice bottle of Domaine Chandon (I have always liked the US version of French Moet and Chandon better! California central coast wines have grown on me in recent years, only reinforced by an actual 25th anniversary trip our there last May!) a few minutes ago, and both of us are hoping to still be conscious for the ball-drop. Happy New Year, Tiger fans! 2017 has been pretty good, for me and mine!

    …..My wish list for the new year starts with a big win over UCF, and a big boost towards what could be another championship season in 2018! War Eagle, and I hope everyone is having a great holiday weekend.