Dec. 1, 2013
With Chris Fowler looking on, Gus Malzahn celebrates at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday...before going back to work (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. – Gus Malzahn celebrated on the field with thousands of his closest friends after Auburn beat Alabama, then went back to work before Saturday night was done.
Malzahn started working on Missouri and the SEC Championship Game.
"Anytime you're playing for a championship, there's no time to relax," Malzahn said Sunday. "We felt like we needed to get a head start on them. They're a very good football team."
Auburn, which moved to No. 3 in the BCS, will take an 11-1 record into the SEC title game. No. 5 Missouri is also 11-1. Both teams won Saturday to make the title game. Missouri beat Texas A&M to claim the SEC East. Auburn beat Alabama to win the SEC West on the last play of the game in one of the most dramatic Iron Bowls ever.
Will the Tigers have an emotional hangover? Auburn didn't after beating Georgia in a dramatic fashion, or after beating Mississippi State or Texas A&M the same way.
"It was a little easier in the Georgia win because we had an off week," Malzahn said. "We just challenged them today, 'Hey, we got to find a way to put that behind us.' We'll talk about it after the SEC Championship game. But we have our hands full with Missouri. We're playing for a championship.
"This team has risen to the challenge each time we've challenged them. But it is a definite factor, as emotional a win as that was last night."
"It was probably the most physical game we've had all year. So, definitely, we need to heal up in a hurry," Malzahn said. "We used a lot of emotional energy, there's no doubt, playing the No. 1 team in the country, and everything that goes with that."
And, now, it's back to work
"It sounds simple, but our guys have just bought in to focusing on the next game," Malzahn said. "Whether we're playing Alabama or a I-AA team, our guys have been ready to play. They've stayed focused, practiced extremely hard. I can't think of one or two practices that I walked off the field thinking that our guys didn't have a good practice. That's just a tribute to our guys. If it's a close game, they believe they're going to win. They've had that attitude all year."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine