Dec. 27, 2013
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn talks to his players before Friday's practice (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. - On a campus all but deserted with students gone home for Christmas, Auburn's football team went back to work Friday in preparation for college football's biggest show. In 10 days, on Jan. 6 at the Rose Bowl, No. 2 Auburn and No. 1 Florida State will play for the BCS national championship.
The Tigers worked for some two hours in full pads in their first practice since breaking for Christmas. They will practice Saturday, Sunday and Monday before boarding their charter and flying west on Tuesday.
First-year head coach Gus Malzahn, winner of 19 of his 20 games dating back to last season at Arkansas State, said earlier that, though both teams will probably be ready to show some new wrinkles, both will rely on what made the last two teams standing in the national championship race.
"I think any time you've got a long period of time, there's going to be some gamesmanship," Malzahn said. `There are going to be some wrinkles on both sides of the football. Usually it takes a quarter and you start to get in a rhythm and you understand what they are doing and they understand what you are doing.
"At the end of the day, they're going to do what they are really good at and we are going to do what we are really good at. We'll see what happens."
Auburn's offense, which averaged 40.2 points per game en route to a 12-1 record and the Southeastern Conference championship, will face the nation's No. 1 scoring defense. The Seminoles gave up just 10.7 points per game en route to a 13-0 record and the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.
"They are probably the fastest defense we've faced," Malzahn said. "We've faced some really fast ones, but they may be the fastest. They can really run, and they are good tacklers."
Florida State is No. nationally in scoring offense at 53 points per game. Quarterback Jameis Winston, the Heisman Trophy winner, will challenge Auburn's defense.
"We have faced some dynamic quarterbacks," Malzahn said. "They are a little bit different, but have won a lot of games. I hope that will help us. Obviously, we are playing the Heisman Trophy winner, the best player in college football. We have our work cut out for us."
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: