Benjamin Wolk/SEC Country
Auburn fans should be thankful for the season that Kerryon Johnson has put together.

Auburn football: Why the Tigers have loads to be thankful for this season

Auburn football is the No. 1 topic in the War Eagle Wakeup every day — but we cover news, notes and analysis from across the Tigers’ sports world. Join us each morning to get caught up on everything you missed in the world of Auburn football, recruiting, basketball and more.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Everyone’s favorite week is finally here. The food is cooking (or is about to be), family is preparing to gather and the fiercest rivalry in the country is coming up in 48 hours.

Fortunately for Auburn, the 2017 season has turned into everything the Tigers hoped it would be this summer and fall camp.

All of college football will be watching as Auburn and Alabama face off in the Iron Bowl this weekend — and what makes it even better is that it actually matters.

If coach Gus Malzahn’s team can knock off the No. 1 team in the country yet again, Auburn is looking at its goal of an SEC championship right in the eye. And the College Football Playoff won’t be too far off, either.

But it has taken far more than nine wins for Auburn to reach this point. Tigers fans should be thankful for the following things, specifically.

The missing puzzle piece 

At the end of last season, finding a solution to the quarterback disaster was Auburn’s primary concern.

Gus Malzahn and his staff outdid themselves when they brought in Jarrett Stidham. The sophomore and former Baylor backup bought the deep ball back to The Plains and rejuvenated Auburn’s offense in a big way.

The Texas native, who was named an Earl Campbell Tyler Rose semifinalist, has been exactly what Auburn needed to find success in the SEC West.

Now, Stidham will prepare to take his biggest stage yet and play in his first-ever Iron Bowl.

A defense full of bosses 

Imagine you’re standing in a room full of Auburn’s defensive players and you’re trying to find the player in charge. Where do you turn?

You could walk over to Jeff Holland; he’d probably be at the top of the list. Dontavius Russell is the only three-year starter, so he’s in consideration. But the list goes on and on.

Marlon Davidson. Derrick Brown. Tray Matthews. Stephen Roberts. Tre’ Williams. Deshaun Davis.

Everywhere you turn it seems Auburn’s defense has a boss to put on the field. Kevin Steele’s unit has been a huge reason why the Tigers have been so good at times this season and why there could still be so much left to play for.

A national audience (and the always-entertaining Sir Charles)

The national audience that will tune into Auburn-Alabama this weekend was mentioned above, but there’s even more reason to watch this weekend.

ESPN’s College GameDay will be on campus and basketball star Charles Barkley will be the celebrity guest picker (That’s worth watching in itself.).

The Plains, and later in the day Jordan-Hare Stadium, will be at a totally different level of intense this weekend. It’s going to be a good one.

In other Auburn football news:

Tweet of the day 

Also, another important note about GameDay. It’s not in its usual spot in front of the stadium. You will want to check it out.

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