Full disclosure here: I thought Auburn might win five games this year.
Five, if they managed to beat Tennessee or Mississippi State, in addition to sure wins against Washington State, Arkansas State, Western Carolina and Florida Atlantic.
I never thought the Tigers would not only beat Mississippi State, but also Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Arkansas, and should be favored at Tennessee and at home vs. Georgia.
That would give Auburn a record of 11-1 heading into the Iron Bowl against what could be an undefeated Alabama team on the hunt for its fourth national title in five years.
It’s amazing to think how far Auburn has come since last year, when the Tigers won three games, went winless in the SEC and were shut out in the final two SEC games.
Out goes Gene Chizik. In comes Gus Malzahn.
Malzahn has worked miracles with the program.
The Tigers are 8-1. They shocked Johnny Manziel and his Texas A&M buddies. They were efficient in victories over other SEC teams during their five-game win streak. And they’re poised for one of the biggest one-year turnarounds in SEC history.
“I’m just proud of the guys,” Malzahn said Saturday. “They play together, they do what the coaches ask, they play for each other. And they’re finding ways to win.”
Auburn wins with a simple formula: Run the football. A lot.
Tre Mason was selected as the SEC’s offensive player of the week after running for 168 yards and four TDs in the win over Arkansas. He’s third in the SEC with 921 yards rushing and leads non-kickers in scoring with 14 TDs.
QB Nick Marshall has 520 yards rushing and Cameron Artis-Payne has 515 to help Auburn lead the conference with 306.2 yards rushing.
“Our key is our mindset,” Mason told AL.com Saturday. “We’re going to pound it down their throat, and you got to try to stop it. And if you don’t, you got to like it.”