Nov. 23, 2013
Auburn's Gus Malzahn likes the idea of the Iron Bowl in Jordan-Hare Stadium (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn’s Gus Malzahn showed respect to No. 1 Alabama on Saturday, but he is, of course, partial to his Tigers heading to next week’s Iron Bowl.
"We’re playing the best team in the country, no doubt," Malzahn said on CBS. "The good thing is we’re playing good football, we’ve improved each week, we’re playing at home. If it’s a close game, I like our chances."
Why not? Auburn has three last-minute wins this season.
The college football world will watch next Saturday’s game between 10-1 Auburn and 11-0 Alabama in the 2:30 p.m. game in Jordan-Hare Stadium. There is already plenty of buzz about the game (Auburn’s RV lots began filling up a full week in advance), but Malzahn doesn’t want his players to get caught up in it.
"We’re going to have to keep exactly what we’ve done to get us here. Not look ahead. Not listen to any of the outside stuff, just keep improving each practice, each game," Malzahn said. "So far, this group has done it. They were very focused this week at practice, so I expect the same thing next week."
Malzahn did concede there’s still excitement about Ricardo Louis’ miracle touchdown catch that beat Georgia last week.
"It was electric, and this place has been buzzing ever since," Malzahn said.
The guy who threw it? The ever-improving Nick Marshall.
"He was learning on the run, probably the first four or five games. He’s finally starting to feel comfortable," Malzahn said. "He doesn’t get too high, too low no matter what the moment is. His teammates really believe in him. He shows a lot of toughness -- physical toughness, mental toughness. He’s just a joy to coach. He’s leading our team right now."
And all the while, Auburn has moved up in the BCS standings. Could the Tigers sneak into the championship game?
"We’ve got our hands full with Alabama. We’ll worry about that after the game," Malzahn said.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine