Coming off an Iron Bowl victory, Auburn travels to Atlanta next weekend with the SEC championship on the line. The Tigers will play Georgia just three weeks after they demolished the Bulldogs 40-17 inside Jordan-Hare Stadium.
“First of all I’m extremely proud of our team to get to this point,” Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said. “We battled adversity at the first of the season, middle of the season and we won five in a row. Of course last night was a big win for our team beating Alabama.”
This is the first time Auburn and Georgia have collided in the SEC Championship game.
“I really think it is our leadership," Malzahn said about his team's strong second half of the season. "We were in a real tough spot after LSU. They rolled up their sleeves and distractions didn’t bother them. We took it one game at a time and started playing really good football.”
Running back Kerryon Johnson left the Iron Bowl in the fourth quarter with an injury and his status is not yet known for the SEC Championship. Malzahn was not sure when Johnson would practice this week and plans to check on him daily to see what his status will be. Running back Kamryn Pettway will miss the SEC Championship as he continues to recover from a fractured scapula.
"Everyone has seen the courage he has shown," Malzahn said about Johnson. "I know that physically if he can go, then he will. We are not ready to say that yet. We will have to see later in the week.”
Kam Martin, Malik Miller and Devan Barrett will fill the void of Johnson if he is unable to play against Georgia. Martin has over 400 yards on the season and two touchdowns.
Auburn’s last SEC title was in 2013, and the Tigers are looking to capture their third this decade.
In the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry in November, Auburn’s game plan was executed to perfection. Auburn stifled Georgia's run game, holding Georgia star running back Nick Chubb to just 27 yards. As a team, Georgia ran for 46 yards on 32 carries.
“Our defense played one of its best games," Malzahn said. "Georgia is talented. Their running backs are unbelievable. We are going to have to do it again.”