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Gus Malzahn looking at Ole Miss, not playoff standings
Oct. 29, 2014

Auburn's Gus Malzahn will be calling the shots at Ole Miss on Saturday

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.  Gus Malzahn's celebration on being included in the first College Football Playoff standings, and coming in at No. 3 at that, was not only muted, it was non-existent. 

"It's really not been addressed at all," the Auburn coach said on the SEC teleconference Wednesday. "We've got Ole Miss. That's the only thing on our mind. We're playing one of the better teams in the country."

True enough, in the same week the standings were released, No. 3 Auburn will face No. 4 Ole Miss in Oxford at 6 p.m. Saturday on ESPN.

Malzahn said he didn't really didn't "have much reaction" to Tuesday night's TV event that showed Mississippi State is No. 1, Florida State is No. 2, Auburn is No. 3 and Ole Miss is No. 4. The top four teams on Dec. 7, or at least five games from now for the Tigers, will qualify for the new playoffs.

"We've got to go on the road and play three Top 10 teams," Malzahn said. 

And as far as the playoffs, "we'll worry about that as it gets toward the end of the season."

Left on Auburn schedule, in order, are Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Georgia, Samford and Alabama.

"If you look at our schedule the rest of the year, it's the toughest in the country, probably by far," Malzahn said.

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said, like Malzahn, the early rankings don't really matter.

"I tell our kids here that we're focused solely, really, on one ranking, and that would be what's issued Dec. 7," Freeze said. "I think that's the one that really matters. I recognize that the committee, they have a difficult job. We have confidence in them and I know that they're going to judge the full schedule of games. It's certainly an honor to be considered one of the teams right now that has a shot at it and I think it probably gives more boost to your fan base than anything else. But it's certainly exciting times for college football."


• The NCAA said Wednesday that star running back Todd Gurley could return Nov. 15 from a suspension that will stretch to four games. He'll return just in time to play Auburn.

"I think he's excited to finishing the season with his teammates," Georgia coach Mark Richt said on the teleconference.

Georgia said it would appeal for an earlier return for Gurley, who has been out since it was revealed he signed autographs for profit.

• Freeze said Ole Miss changed its signals last spring, once graduate assistant Ryan Aplin left his staff for Auburn.
"It's always a concern that you have people on your previous staffs that played for you on other staffs that you're competing with," Freeze said. "I do know we wholesaled changed everything. There may be some things he can add. We'll kind of feel it out early on to see if they've got something or not. I don't know what else we can do at this point that we already haven't done."

• Freeze said controlling Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall and "those big receivers" are a concern.

"The minute you commit too many people to controlling him, they've got guys that make you pay  and pay with explosive plays. Gus has always done a great job of trying to disguise his looks and motions and shifts. He just does a great job with a lot of eye candy and things that can get your eyes in bad positions and cause you to make mistakes to give them explosive plays."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer for Follow him on Twitter:



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