Auburn’s season began with a bang, with the Tigers clinching the nation’s top spot in the SEC standings with a 38-0 win over No. 2 Alabama on Sunday.
The Tigers’ victory is the first of five in the last six weeks for Auburn, which has clinched a share of the national championship with a 30-0 rout of No. 3 Texas A&M on Saturday.
The Tigers, the only team left in the nation without a national championship, will face off against the No. 8-ranked Crimson Tide on Saturday, the winner of which would then face No. 5 Georgia.
Auburn, which is one win away from the No .
1 seed in the playoff, is averaging a league-high 37.2 points per game.
It’s the Tigers’ third consecutive win at Alabama and fourth straight in the series, the last two of which came in 2014.
ESPN’s Football Power Index has the Crimson Tide ranked No. 6 nationally, No. 10 in the ACC and No. 11 in the Big 12.
“This game is huge for us,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said.
“This is the last chance for us to be the No 1 seed and play in the playoffs.
We’ve got to get this done and win it.”
The win over Alabama came as the Tigers looked to avoid a repeat of a 30.5-point loss to the Aggies in the opener of the season.
However, Auburn did not lose a single quarterback to injury, a trait that has been a hallmark of the Tigers offensive line.
Defensive tackle Malik McDowell had four tackles, including a sack, and was credited with two sacks in the victory.
Malzahn, who was the starter for the first time in four seasons, had said he was not concerned about any lingering effects from a concussion that sidelined him for most of last season.
He said he thought he would be fine for the season opener and said he could feel better after getting the concussion.
The Tigers were also without two other starters, guard D’Andre Swift and safety Eric Reid, both with knee injuries.
The team had been without a starter at quarterback since the second half of the 2014 season, but that has not prevented them from playing in three straight games.
The win, though, was not enough for Malzahns team to finish above .500 in the preseason rankings, which are released Monday.
They finished with a record of 19-11 and a record in the top 10 in a preseason poll of national coaches.
They also earned a spot in this week’s preseason top 25 and were in the ESPN preseason top 20.
Baylor finished with 10 wins.
The Longhorns are now 1-7 this season, the worst record in program history.
“We’ve got some very talented young guys and I’m confident in our depth in our group,” Malzans first-year head coach Kevin Sumlin said.
Marshall has led the Bears to two wins over top-10 teams, including the season-opening 31-21 win over Texas A &M on Oct. 16.
This is Marshall’s second victory over the Crimson Blue, as the Bears defeated No. 4 Alabama 38-14 in 2015.