Coach Gene Chizik's Tigers go into their Saturday night home game vs. the Georgia Bulldogs in the role of spoiler facing an 8-1 opponent that is in a must-win situation to be able return to the SEC Championship Game.
Auburn, which is 2-7 overall, is still looking for its first conference victory in its seventh try.
Georgia features one of the SEC's top quarterbacks, Aaron Murray, who burned Ole Miss last week with four long touchdown passes. One of the players the Tigers will be counting on to pressure the junior quarterback is defensive end Dee Ford.
Ford said that he is finally close to full speed physically after missing two games with a lower abdomen injury and playing on a part-time basis the past two games. He made three tackles in the Homecoming contest with a sack.
The junior points out that Georgia's duo of freshmen tailbacks will also be tough to defend. "It is a huge challenge," he noted. "This is the oldest rivalry in the South, but beyond that we are playing two great young backs.
"They are game-breakers," he said of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. "We are definitely focused on them. They make plays and we are just going to have to limit those explosive plays and make plays ourselves."
After Thursday's practice in shorts, Chizik agreed with Ford about the importance of getting after Murray. "I think everything starts with him," the Auburn coach said.
"We have to get pressure on him," Chizik noted. "If you let him sit back there and toss the ball around as accurate as he is, and as talented as the receivers are he has got now, that is going to give you pretty much no chance...I think his accuracy is incredible and I think he has got so much poise.
"Defensively, we need to have the momentum-changer plays like Daren (Daren Bates) made last week and we have to stop those two tailbacks, too.
"We have got to have some explosive plays offensively whether it is a couple of deep balls throwing the football or a couple of big runs," Chizik added. "We need something to break."
Injury Update: Starting cornerback Chris Davis (concussion) is questionable for Saturday night's game. Starting middle linebacker Jake Holland (ankle sprain) is doubtful. Tight end C.J. Uzomah (broken bone in his finger) is out as his tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen (hip surgery).
Starting defensive tackle Jeffrey Whitaker, who missed the past three games with a back problem, is expected to be ready to play on Saturday night. Quarterback Clint Moseley (ankle injury) will be available for emergency duty if needed, but freshman Jonathan Wallace will start and the second option is sophomore Kiehl Frazier.
Series Record: The Tigers and Bulldogs have played 115 times starting with an Auburn victory in 1892, the first intercollegiate football game in AU history. Auburn leads the series 54-53-8, but Georgia won 45-7 last year and has won seven of the last 10 since ending a three-game Auburn winning streak in the series in 2002.
The Jay-Dozer: Fullback Jay Prosch has been named one of the candidates for the 2012 Discover Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. Prosch, who was granted a waiver to play at Auburn this year without sitting out a year, is a transfer from the University of Illinois. He made the move so he could be closer to his ailing mother in Mobile. Iris Prosch lost her fight with brain cancer this summer.
The fullback has been a major contributor to the Tigers with his blocking. He scored his first college touchdown last week in a 42-7 win vs. New Mexico State.
The day before the season opener his mother Iris slipped into a coma. He played against Clemson on Sept. 1 and traveled to Mobile to be with her when she died the next morning. Prosch attended classes the next day, telling others his mother wouldn't want him missing studies or practice time.
After a funeral service on Thursday, Sept. 6, he returned to Auburn in time to travel with the team to Starkville, Miss., to play Mississippi State.
Promising Weather: The forecast for Saturday calls for clear skies and a high of 75 degrees, but it will get chilly quickly in the evening. Temperatures are expected to drop into the 40s during the game.
Television Coverage: Saturday's game will be televised by ESPN2 at 6 p.m. CST. Mark Jones will handle the play by play, Brock Huard will be the analyst and Allison Williams the sideline reporter.
Radio Coverage: In addition to coverage by the Auburn Network on stations around the southeast, the radio broadcast is available on Sirius Channel 92 and XM Channel 196. The game is also being carried on stations around the country on the Touchdown Radio network.