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