By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala. - When Jarrett Stidham committed to Auburn nearly a year ago, he envisioned opportunities like the one he'll experience on Saturday.
"This is exactly why I came here, to play in a game like this, with these kinds of implications," Stidham said. "This is why you play Division One football, especially at a place like Auburn, in this state, against Alabama. It's a very big deal. And I'm really looking forward to it."
The stakes could scarcely be higher. Bragging rights alone make the Iron Bowl a big deal, but this year the SEC Western division title is on the line. Stidham understands the hype, but will not alter his routine.
"From a preparation standpoint, it's got to be the same, just as if it was Louisiana-Monroe like last week," he said. "It's a much bigger game, implications on the line, that kind of thing. Preparation, I don't think it needs to change too much, get out of that comfort zone.
"I have talked a lot of people who have played in this game, been around this rivalry a long time. They've warned me about how crazy this can get. I'm excited for it."
The SEC's leader in completion percentage at 67.8 percent, Stidham leads a balanced attack that forces defenses to account equally for rushing and passing.
"I think it's going to be big key for us, if we want to move the ball on these guys," Stidham said. "Obviously, they're a very, very talented defense. I think if we come and execute, establish a really good tempo, I think it will put us in a good position for the rest of the game."
As the season has progressed, so too has Stidham's connection with offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey.
"I love Coach Lindsey," Stidham said. "He's a great guy, first and foremost. I can go up to his office and talk to him about anything other than football, which I really enjoy. Football side of things, we see eye to eye on pretty much everything.
"It's nice to shoot ideas off of each other and pick each other's brains a little bit. Build that chemistry because it's a pretty special thing what we have, and something we've grown into. It's been really good."
For the second time in three weeks, Stidham and the No. 6 Tigers have a chance to knock off No. 1. If they can pull it off, Auburn will be on its way to Atlanta to play for the SEC championship.
"We've got to be locked in this week and prepare as best as we can," Stidham said. "I think it's going to come down to whoever wants it more."
-- Jeff Shearer (@jeff_shearer) November 21, 2017
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer