Both have played for a national championship since then and while Auburn has been up and down, Clemson has become one of the most consistent programs in the country with five consecutive 10-win seasons under Coach Dabo Swinney.
Growing up in Alabama and playing football for the Crimson Tide, Swinney knows Auburn's history of being able to turn things around in a hurry. Despite the disappointment of a year ago and the 7-6 finish, Swinney said one thing he knows about Auburn is that when they step on the field they’re going to have quality football players.
"They look different because they have different people,” Swinney said when asked to compare Auburn now to 2012. “Circumstances change based on personnel. Auburn has always been Auburn in the sense that they always have dudes that can run, dudes that have size and dudes that have athleticism.
"They've been well coached for a long time," he added. "That part of it never changes."
Something that is different for Clemson this time around is preparing once again for Gus Malzahn’s offense. In 2012 Auburn had changed systems with Gene Chizik scrapping the up-tempo approach for a more traditional offense. That didn’t work out for Auburn with a 3-9 finish, leading to Malzahn returning as head coach.
Now with the hurry-up a focus for Auburn in the preseason and Sean White named as the starting quarterback, Swinney said he is also expecting to see new quarterback John Franklin III in the game in some capacity as well because of his speed.
“I'm not surprised they named White the starter because I thought he played really well for them at times last year,” Swinney said. “He's a young player and they saw some things. I'm sure they've evaluated this position all offseason including spring and summer. You don't make that decision when they did without being confident in him. He's a highly recruited guy that has been named the starting quarterback at Auburn.
“That doesn't happen by luck," the coach said. "He's a guy that is capable of taking this team and winning this game. I'm sure we'll see the backup in a different role maybe. I'm sure they'll try to get them both out there because like us, they're of the attitude of we've got to see some games. We've got to see some performance in games. We're just trying to get our guys to execute on what they do."
With a final week of preparation to get his team ready, Swinney said he’s expecting nothing less than an all-out-battle on Saturday night.
"I've got a lot of respect for Auburn and the amount of talent they have on that team,” Swinney said. “They are coming off a major disappointing season, but if you look at their games they really competed and had a chance to win just about every game.
“It truly is a fine thing, where it's a play here and there," Swinney added. "None of that things matter now. It's about this season and somebody will win and somebody will lose. However, I think both of these teams have the potential for excellent years. We're just focused on putting together a good plan and trying to get a big win for us."
Kickoff for Saturday game between Auburn and Clemson is scheduled for 8 p.m CDT. and can be seen on ESPN.