Auburn is set to play No. 12 UCF in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Jan. 1 in Atlanta.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better matchup to celebrate our 50th anniversary,” said Gary Stokan, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl CEO and president. “To have college football’s only undefeated team square off against the first-ever team to defeat two College Football Playoff No. 1 ranked teams in a season makes for an extremely compelling game.”
Despite a disappointing 28-7 loss to Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn is focused on the bowl game, and is excited for the chance to face an unbeaten conference champion on New Year’s Day.
“We’re very excited about playing in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl against a very good Central Florida team," Malzahn said. "They have a very dynamic offense and are the only undefeated team in FBS, so it will be a great challenge for our program. We look forward to spending time in Atlanta, where we have a tremendous fan base and playing again in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.”
Malzahn said, despite not being a Power Five conference team, UCF has his team's full attention.
"I promise you we'll take them seriously," Malzahn They're the No. 12 team in the entire country. They're the only undefeated team. They're the No. 1 scoring offense in the country. And they've earned everybody's respect. Not just ours, but everybody around the country. Our guys, they'll need to be ready, and I expect us to be ready."
Auburn's fifth-year head coach said he has been impressed by the speed and athleticism the Knights possess on both sides of the ball.
"Yeah, they've got a lot of speed," Malzahn said. "Coach Frost and his staff just did a super job. They're the No. 1 scoring offense in the country. They've earned that. They've got a lot of weapons. Any time you're undefeated, that is a very, very special thing. So they've got everything going for them, and it's been impressive to watch from the outside."
Auburn will return to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the second of three consecutive games. The Tigers fell to Georgia over the weekend, and will face UCF on New Year's Day before opening their 2018 season against Washington in Atlanta.
"They're going to be extremely excited to go back to the same venue and play better than we did (on Saturday)," Malzahn said. "We didn't play our best. Got to give Georgia credit. But I know this team is going to be extremely hungry to win this bowl game and to finish the season off the right way for our seniors and a chance to win 11 games.
"So we'll be very excited. We're going to be very motivated. There's no doubt in my mind about that."