Auburn didn't just survive "Amen Corner." They kicked the door down and danced a whole lot on their way in.
Gus Malzahn's up and down season reached its highest point Tuesday night, when the Auburn Tigers came crashing in at No. 2 in the College Football Playoff. It's Auburn's highest spot in the 4-year-old playoff era.
Although daunting, the back end of the year didn't scare Auburn. According to Malzahn, they had been embracing the pressure for a while.
“Since LSU we’ve been in the playoffs and having to win every game,” Malzahn said before the Iron Bowl. “We’ve had that mindset and with that comes a lot of pressure. But it’s healthy pressure, especially when you are able to do what you say.
"After that LSU game we stood in this room and we said ‘we have to win five in a row.’ We took it one game at a time, and we’ve won four. No. 5 is Saturday.”
And they got that No. 5 win. A 26-14, second-half dominating victory over bitter rival Alabama showed the nation that now-SEC West Champion Auburn is no joke.
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"You don't ever say 'Alabama got handled'," ESPN analyst Jesse Palmer said. "The score was not indicative of how dominant [Auburn] was."
The team's national respect has been earned after back-to-back double-digit wins over the top-ranked teams in the country. The only downside for Auburn: they have to play one of those teams again.
Georgia has had its spot in Atlanta secured since the first matchup in Jordan-Hare. The Bulldogs will be angry, and Auburn might be without star runningback Kerryon Johnson. The winner is likely a lock for the playoffs.
Alabama falls to No. 5 after the loss on The Plains, while Georgia sits just outside at No. 6. Auburn jumped No. 4 Wisconsin (12-0), although the Badgers will be a shoe-in if they can handle No. 8 Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship.
With the last rankings of the regular season in the books, Auburn played five Top 25 schools during its 2017 run (No. 23 Mississippi State, No. 17 LSU, No. 5 Alabama, No. 6 Georgia, No. 2 Clemson), including three in the Top 10, four including the SEC Championship.
CFP Rankings (Nov. 28, 2017)
8. Ohio State
9. Penn State
10. So. California
15. Notre Dame
16. Michigan State
18. Washington State
19. Oklahoma State
22. Virginia Tech
23. Mississippi State
24. NC State
25. Fresno State
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