AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn won’t be away from Mercedes-Benz Stadium for long. Just a few weeks after a trip to Atlanta for the SEC title game, the Tigers are headed back across state lines.
This time around Gus Malzahn’s team will take on UCF in the Peach Bowl. While the Tigers won’t be facing an SEC opponent, a victory won’t come easy.
The Knights finished No. 10 in the College Football Playoff rankings, but were the only group in the Top 25 to post an undefeated record. UCF coach Scott Frost is headed to Nebraska, but first he’ll try to get his final win for the state of Florida.
For Auburn, disappointment about missing out on the Playoff remains, but a win in a New Year’s Six bowl game will help feelings on the Plains.
Here’s what Jacobs and Malzahn had to say:
- Jay Jacobs starts things off by accepting the formal invitation to the Peach Bowl. “We do, we accept.”
- Gus Malzahn thanks Jacobs and Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl representatives.
- “It’s a great opportunity for our program..Playing another undefeated team, I believe this is the third undefeated team in the last five games.”
- Malzahn explains why game will be “a good one” with Auburn’s defense facing one of the nation’s top offenses in the Knights.
- “I think guys are healing up…Obviously it was a very physical end of the year stretch.” Auburn players are finishing up finals, but the team will practice on Friday.
- Kamryn Pettway will not participate in Peach Bowl. Malzahn says he and Pettway will cross the NFL bridge when the time comes.
- Malzahn says he has “a good idea of what we’re looking for.” That includes a great coach, a great recruiter and someone who will fit in with Auburn.
- “I’m not ready to say exactly what role this tenth assistant will be.”
- “Herb (Hand) will be back with us,” Malzahn says. He’s one of the best in the business, according to Malzahn. “We’re very blessed to have the staff we have.” Hand’s contract is up on January 1, but it will be renewed.
- Malzahn says the next three or four years are going to be Auburn’s best years yet. Officially ending 2017 with a win on New Year’s Day will be critical.
- “We’re going to do everything we can to keep our guys,” Malzahn says when asked about renewing contracts of wide receiver coach Kodi Burns and linebackers coach Travis Williams.
- Malzahn “will have a better idea” on Kerryon Johnson in the weeks to come, but he knows the junior will want to play.
- On UCF: “You can tell they’re well-coached. Coach Frost really did a super job with this team…The thing that stands out to me is their ability to win close games.”
- Early bowl practices, as is usually the case, will be focused on Auburn and younger guys, fundamentals, etc.
- Malzahn is looking forward to seeing redshirts and younger guys that were back-ups. “You see guys raise their level,” during this time of year.