Coach Gus Malzahn's Tigers won that contest vs. Washington State back on August 31st and then won 11 of the next 12 games, setting the stage for Auburn to take on Florida State in the BCS National Championship Game. The title game will be played on Jan. 6th in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl.
The Tigers will go into the matchup vs. the Seminoles ranked No. 2 nationally, quite a climb for a team that was unranked going into the opener vs. the Cougars of Washington State.
From game one to game 13 the Tigers made major improvement, especially on offense. One of the key players in making that happen is All-SEC center Reese Dismukes, who said the Tigers improved "a lot" from their opening night 31-24 victory to their 59-42 SEC Championship Game win over Missouri on Dec. 7th.
"The motto coming into day one was getting better each and every day, and we have really done that," said Dismukes, who noted that Tigers will still be focusing on that theme as they resume practice after taking a break for the Christmas holiday.
Dismukes is shown at a preseason practice in August.
Dismukes, a three-year starter for the Tigers, said that after watching video of his team's victory over Missouri he knows the offensive line can play better than it did in game 13 and he said that is the case for the entire team.
Auburn finished the opener with 16 first downs and 394 total yards vs. Washington State. In their last contest vs. Missouri at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, the Tigers finished with 30 first downs and 677 total yards, setting SEC Championship Game records in both categories as well as for most points scored as Auburn broke its record of 55 set in 2010 vs. South Carolina.
Another junior on this year's team, second team All-SEC selection C.J. Uzomah, agrees with Dismukes about how much the Tigers have improved this season.
"I think we have identified ourselves and we know where our strengths our," Uzomah said about the development of the offense. "A little earlier we were a little slow with the pace--we were kind of timid," he said. "We didn't really know how good we could be.
"We knew we were a special team, and we were on the brink of something special, but we didn't know good we could be," said tight end, who has three touchdown catches this season.
"Now I think we know who we are," Uzomah added. "We know if we pace there are few teams that can keep up with us. I think that is kind of where our identity is and we know we are one of the best offenses in the nation."
The Tigers could need all the offensive production they can get in Pasadena as they take on a Florida State team that is 13-0 after scalping ACC opponents week after week this season. The Seminoles are scoring 53 points per game and are averaging 529.4 total yards per outing.
Auburn's practices will be on campus before flying to California on New Year's Eve where the Tigers will continue preparations for their second BCS Championship Game appearance. The 2010 Tigers wrapped up their season with a victory over Oregon to bring home the crystal football championship trophy, something the 2013 Tigers will be trying to do against the Seminoles in the final BCS Championship Game, which will be replaced by a four-team playoff system next year.