AUBURN, Ala. — Gus Malzahn won’t get ahead of himself, but that isn’t going to stop the national media from peeking to later in the season.
Malzahn only received one question postgame that even resembled an end-of-season lookahead, but the Auburn coach shot down that notion before it began: “Here’s what we’re doing. We are playing one week in a row. We’re going to Ole Miss next week, and that’s all we’re thinking about. We will see how we are at the end of the year. We’re playing good football right now. We will continue to improve, and that is the only thing on our mind,” Malzahn said.
He might be the only one not thinking future today. It was hard to watch Auburn’s destruction of Arkansas and not ask the question: Are the Tigers the best remaining chance at upending the Crimson Tide? Well, many members of the national media below seem to think it’s worth considering.
Iron Bowl talk:
Ben Estes, Sports Illustrated: “The Tide will be heavy favorites no matter what happens between now and then, but weird things happen in rivalry games — and an Auburn upset looks likelier now than it has at any point in 2016 so far.”
Morgan Moriarty, SB Nation: “This thrashing makes this year’s Iron Bowl look more intriguing than it did earlier in the season. Auburn still has to travel to Ole Miss and Georgia before heading to Tuscaloosa, but there’s now more reason to think the Tigers might be able to give the Tide a game.”
Patrick Stevens, Washington Post: “Auburn might be the last, best option to derail the Alabama juggernaut after the Crimson Tide dispensed with Tennessee and Texas A&M the past two weeks.”
Nick Bromberg, Yahoo! Sports: “But given Auburn’s current form and 3-1 record in the conference (with games already played vs. A&M and LSU), the Tigers are still in it. If Auburn’s offensive excellence continues, it’s no stretch to think the Iron Bowl vs. Alabama at the end of November could be for the SEC West title.”
Dan Wolken, USA Today: “After a one-year hiatus, the Iron Bowl is going to mean something again. Playing Clemson already should give Auburn good blueprint for Hurts.”
Jon Solomon, CBS Sports: “Um, Arkansas? Auburn 21, Arkansas 0. Auburn has 183 rushing yards on 10 carries in 1st quarter. Iron Bowl might matter again to SEC West.”
John Zenor, Associated Press: “A lot could happen in the next few weeks, but could the Iron Bowl feature the SEC’s two best teams? I’ll hang up and listen.”
Aaron Torres, FOX Sports: “A new surprising contender has emerged that could actually challenge the mighty Crimson Tide late in the season: Their hated rivals, the Auburn Tigers. We’re not saying Auburn will pull off the upset … just that it’s something we should watch for down the road.”
Ben Kercheval, CBS Sports: “At the risk of getting too ahead of ourselves, I’ll refrain from using the “back” word and pining for the Iron Bowl too soon. Still, Auburn looks competent — more than competent, even. Fun, in fact.”