AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn has dropped only three games by a total of 21 points, all against teams that are in the top 10, and the 16th-ranked Tigers try to avoid looking ahead to a regular-season finale versus their biggest rival when they host FCS squad Samford on Saturday. Auburn lost at No. 10 Florida (24-13) and No. 1 LSU (23-20) before suffering a 21-14 setback against No. 4 Georgia at home last week to extinguish any faint hopes of making the College Football Playoff.
TV: Noon ET, SEC Network. LINE: No line
“I mean, we’re disappointed,” Tigers coach Gus Malzahn told al.com after last week’s loss. “I think everybody could see we’ve got a good football team. We’ve had some tough, close losses (and) that was another one. But we have great character in our locker room. … They’ll rebound and finish this thing.” Auburn, which closes out the regular season by hosting fifth-ranked Alabama on Nov. 30, scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter last week before coming up short in its final two possessions. “We’re competitors,” Tigers freshman quarterback Bo Nix told al.com. “. … Obviously, the big picture, it may have gone away, but this is college football and we still have a lot left to play. We’ve got a big one coming up (Saturday) and the week after that with the Iron Bowl, so we’ll be ready.” Samford knocked off Western Carolina 31-13 last week after dropping four of the previous five games, and lost by just 10 at Florida State last season.
ABOUT SAMFORD (5-6)
The Bulldogs used two quarterbacks the last two weeks as junior Liam Welch threw for 115 yards and ran for 105 in the win over Western Carolina while former South Florida signal caller Chris Oladokun (2,064 yards, 18 TDs passing) was just 3-of-6 through the air. Freshman running back Jay Stanton leads the team with 671 yards rushing to go along with seven TDs and Oladokun is next with 488 and eight scores. Seniors Chris Shelling (41 catches, 480 yards, five TDs) and Robert Adams (36, 561, three) are the top receivers and junior linebacker John Staton leads the defense (112 tackles).
ABOUT AUBURN (7-3)
Nix competed 30 passes in each of the last two games and owns five touchdown strikes to go along with just one interception in his past four games while scoring once on the ground in each of those contests. The Tigers are 27th in the nation in rushing yards per game (205.8), led by sophomore JaTarvious Whitlow (576 yards, seven TDs) and freshman D.J. Williams (329), who ran for 130 against LSU. Nix has three solid targets to look for in sophomores Seth Williams (48 catches, 690 yards, eight TDs) and Anthony Schwartz (30, 353, one), along with junior Eli Stove (30, 267, three).
1. Auburn senior DE Marlon Davidson is second in the SEC with 6.5 sacks and DB Jeremiah Dinson eighth with 7.7 tackles per game
2. Seth Williams had a career-high 13 receptions last week against Georgia and is tied for 20th in nation with eight catches of at least 30 yards.
3. The Bulldogs are 2-77-3 all time versus SEC foes, including 0-27-1 against Auburn after losing 31-7 in the last meeting in 2014.
PREDICTION: Auburn 52, Samford 10