Auburn, Ala.--Coming off a tough 30-12 loss to Alabama to finish off an up-and-down 2016 regular season, the Auburn Tigers now turn their attention to finishing off the year on a positive note. Where that will be and against whom still remains to be seen, but on Tuesday Coach Malzahn’s team was ranked 14th in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, one spot ahead of Florida as the Gators prepare to face Alabama in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday.
Being the second-highest ranked SEC team puts Auburn in position to earn a spot in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2 in New Orleans, barring an upset by Florida. If that holds the Tigers would likely face the winner of No. 9 Oklahoma and No. 10 Oklahoma State in this weekend's Bedlam Game in Norman.
No matter the opponent or the bowl this Auburn team is focused on finishing off the season on a high note said linebacker Tre Williams.
“That would be really big,” Williams said of getting a bowl win. “Last year the bowl game really set us up for his year. This bowl game could set us up for a big year next year.”
The possibility of facing one of the nation’s top programs makes the game even more intriguing. Beating Memphis to end last season gave Auburn a big boost going into the offseason. Beating an 10-2 Oklahoma team in the Sugar Bowl would set the Tigers up to be a preseason Top 15 team next year.
Fellow linebacker DeShaun Davis said coming off a disappointing end to the season getting a victory could be a huge stepping stone for the program.
“It would be very important,” Davis said. “I think last year’s bowl game kind of swung some momentum into this year because we came in on a win. We’ve got a lot of young guys playing like 24 (Daniel Thomas) and 3 (Marlon Davidson) and a lot of young guys on offense. Just for them to have another game under their belts and for us to have a win going into next season would be really big.”
ITAT SEC Bowl Projections
Peach (Playoff Semifinal): Alabama vs. Washington
Sugar: Auburn vs. Oklahoma
Citrus: Louisville vs. LSU
Outback: Florida vs. Nebraska
TaxSlayer: Arkansas vs. Miami
Music City: Georgia vs. Iowa
Liberty: Kentucky vs. TCU
Belk: Tennessee vs. North Carolina
Birmingham: South Carolina vs. South Florida
Texas: Texas A&M vs. Kansas State
Independence: Vanderbilt vs. North Carolina State
Las Vegas: Miss. State vs. San Diego State