You couldn’t blame Gus Malzahn if he tried to bottle what was working for his Auburn Tigers in their come-from-behind victory against Texas A&M.
“All three phases helped win that game when the pressure was on the most, and that’s really what our team has taken from that,” he said. “You could tell Sunday, it felt different from a confidence standpoint. That’s exactly what we needed, that kind of win to help give us some momentum moving forward.”
Auburn (6-3) will try to take a swig from that bottle at 6 p.m. Saturday on ESPN in Athens as the Tigers take on Georgia. It is the third time in the past year that the teams have squared off, with Auburn trouncing the Bulldogs in the regular season and Georgia extracting some revenge in the SEC Championship Game.
“We’re going to get challenged this week by some individual players who are going to be a real challenge to get blocked,” coach Nick Saban said. “It’s not just going to be a scheme thing. It’s going to be a personal challenge to a lot of guys to get some really good players blocked.”
On the other side of the ball, Mississippi State (6-3) has the element that has sometimes tested the Crimson Tide – a quarterback who can run.
“Nick Fitzgerald is a veteran quarterback who is not only an efficient passer but presents a lot of issues and problems in the running game,” Saban said. “He has already gained almost 900 yards rushing. This is a really good all-around team.”
Saturday is Senior Night at Legion Field for UAB as Southern Miss comes calling at 6:30 p.m. on beIN. And while the Blazers are looking to secure the Conference USA West Division title, they’ll cast a wary eye on the Golden Eagles.
“If you look at us and you look at Southern Miss, I think they’re sitting right behind us defensively,” coach Bill Clark said. “I know (head) coach (Jay) Hopson is a defensive guy. He runs that defense himself.”
UAB backup quarterback Tyler Johnson III subbed for injured starter A.J. Erdely and led the offense to a record-setting performance. Clark could make a gameday decision of which signal-caller takes snaps this week.
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In other action:
Albany State at Miles: The cardiac Golden Bears pulled another game out of the fire last week as they eked out a narrow victory over rival Tuskegee. Now coach Reginald Ruffin’s 4-6 squad gets a rematch with the Rams in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship game at 2 p.m. Albany State won the Sept. 29 contest 30-24 in Georgia.
Louisiana Monroe at South Alabama: The Warhawks and Jaguars (2-7) are tied 2-2 in this series. Neither team has won consecutively since the series began in 2012, and the home team has won each of the first four matchups. In the first matchup in Mobile in 2013, the Jaguars set school game records that still stand today with 14 tackles for loss and nine sacks. Kickoff is at 4 p.m.
Grambling State at Alabama A&M: The Bulldogs have won their past two games, including a 31-point victory last week over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. This battle of 5-4 teams kicks off at 1 p.m.
Jacksonville State at Tennessee State: Gamecocks coach John Grass said his team will have to throw and catch better in this 2 p.m. game in Nashville. “I think we were a little off there in the passing game (in a 21-14 win last week over Tennessee Martin). Some of that had to do with their coverages. We definitely have to play better up front with pass protection and run blocking.”
LaGrange at Huntingdon: This 1 p.m. game concludes the season for the Hawks. They are 3-5.
Jackson State at Alabama State: Alabama State and Jackson State are practically playing in an elimination game for the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) East Division title. Both teams are sitting even in the East Division with Alabama A&M and Alcorn State in division losses; each is one game behind Alcorn State for the best overall record. Kickoff is at 2 p.m.
North Greenville at North Alabama: The Lions are looking to close their first season in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) of Division I on a four-game winning streak. They’ll also look to send a group of 21 seniors off on a triumphant note at 1:30 p.m.
Centre at Birmingham-Southern: The Panthers have won four of their past five games. Senior Day kickoff is at 1 p.m.
Samford at The Citadel: The Bulldogs can assure themselves of a winning season with this 1 p.m. Central kickoff in Charleston, South Carolina.
West Florida at West Alabama: There’s plenty at stake for the Tigers in this 2 p.m. contest. UWA is fifth in this week’ s NCAA Division II Super 2 Region rankings following its 24-3 win at Mississippi College last week. The top seven teams following this weekend’s regular season finales will earn berths in the 2018 NCAA Division II National Playoffs.
Class 7A: Hewitt-Trussville at James Clemens.
Class 6A: Decatur at Jackson-Olin.
Class 5A: Charles Henderson vs. Ramsay at Lawson Field.
Class 4A: Andalusia at Montevallo.
Class 3A: Pisgah at Midfield.
Class 2A: Daleville at Reeltown.
Class 1A: Sweet Water at Maplesville.
AISA: Bessemer Academy at Glenwood.