No. 7 Auburn controls its destiny in SEC West - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

No. 7 Auburn controls its destiny in SEC West

Posted: Updated:
Auburn running back Tre Mason (21) celebrates with fans after an NCAA college football game against Tennessee on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013, in Knoxville, Tenn. Auburn won 55-23. (AP Photo/Wade Payne) Auburn running back Tre Mason (21) celebrates with fans after an NCAA college football game against Tennessee on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013, in Knoxville, Tenn. Auburn won 55-23. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Don't bother mentioning the Iron Bowl to Auburn. The seventh-ranked Tigers refuse to think that far ahead.

"I'm not going to talk about Alabama," Auburn linebacker Cassanova McKinzy said Saturday after the Tigers' 55-23 rout of Tennessee. "I'm just going to talk about Georgia. The only thing we can do is prepare for Georgia and take it one game at a time."

That's the same approach that has helped Auburn (9-1, 5-1 SEC) make the biggest turnaround of any team in the nation.

One year after going 3-9 and failing to earn a single Southeastern Conference victory, Auburn heads into its final two regular-season games in control of its destiny in the Western Division race. If Auburn beats No. 25 Georgia next weekend, it would set the stage for a Nov. 30 showdown with top-ranked Alabama in the most anticipated Iron Bowl since Cam Newton rallied the Tigers to a 28-27 victory at Tuscaloosa in their 2010 national championship season.

Both Georgia and Alabama have to travel to Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn already has completed its road schedule.

"We'll enjoy this one," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said after the Tennessee game. "That's the only thing on our minds. That's been our mindset all year."

That mindset has the Tigers shocking everyone but themselves.

"Coming off a 3-9 season last year, coach Malzahn said this is going to be the biggest turnaround in college football," Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall said. "All of us bought into that and (are) just doing what the coaches tell us to keep winning."

They're winning without passing very often. Auburn attempted just seven passes against Tennessee a week after throwing nine times in a 35-17 victory over Arkansas. Marshall's third and final pass completion came with 6:36 left in the first quarter.

Marshall rushed for 214 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 carries against Tennessee. Tre Mason ran 20 times for 117 yards and three scores while reaching the 1,000-yard mark for a second straight season. Auburn averages 320 yards rushing per game to rank third among all Football Bowl Subdivision teams, behind only Army and New Mexico.

The combination of Marshall and Mason assures that Auburn has a quick-strike offense even without passing.

Auburn's offense had three touchdown drives that lasted only two plays each. In all three of those possessions, Auburn reached the end zone in less than 40 seconds. Auburn also had a six-play, 85-yard touchdown drive that lasted just 1:43.

"Coach Malzahn, he's trying to have the fastest offense in America," Mason said. "That's what we're aiming for."

Auburn has scored at least 30 points in six straight games, the first time the Tigers have done that since 2004. Auburn's main worry is that its opponents also are running effectively.

Tennessee rushed for 226 yards Saturday and averaged 5.3 yards per carry. One week ago, Auburn allowed Arkansas to run for 222 yards on 47 attempts.

"We don't like the rushing yards a bit and feel like we had a lot of misfits," Auburn safety Ryan Smith said. "We'll get back to practice and fix it before next week."

Malzahn already has fixed just about everything else surrounding this program, which now has a legitimate shot to make a worst-to-first turnaround in the Western Division.

"I wouldn't say we're surprising ourselves," McKinzy said. "We have a want-to, like, no team wants to have the kind of season we had last year. I mean, we just came out with a chip on our shoulder. We've got a new coaching staff, and I feel like our coaching staff is the best in the world and they put us in wonderful positions to make plays and win games."

  • Latest StoriesMore>>

  • Criticism mounting for Vikings, Adrian Peterson

    Criticism mounting for Vikings, Adrian Peterson

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 9:44 PM EDT2014-09-17 01:44:53 GMT
    Adrian Peterson was back at Minnesota Vikings headquarters on Monday, and the first thing fullback Jerome Felton did when he saw his star running back was give him a high-five.More >>
    Adrian Peterson has been one of the most popular and marketable stars in the NFL, an approachable superstar with an inspirational comeback story that made him an endorser's dream.More >>
  • State lawmaker watching judge's domestic abuse case.

    State lawmaker watching judge's domestic abuse case.

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 9:31 PM EDT2014-09-17 01:31:11 GMT
    An Alabama congresswoman is speaking out about domestic abuse and says she's closely monitoring a case involving a federal judge from Montgomery.Republican U.S. Rep. Martha Roby issued a statement Tuesday saying the disciplinary process for U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller is ongoing and Congress has the power to impeach members of the judicial branch for misconduct.The 55-year-old judge was arrested Aug. 10 after a fight with his wife at an Atlanta hotel. Fuller was put into a pre-trial diver...More >>
    An Alabama congresswoman is speaking out about domestic abuse and says she's closely monitoring a case involving a federal judge from Montgomery.Republican U.S. Rep. Martha Roby issued a statement Tuesday saying the disciplinary process for U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller is ongoing and Congress has the power to impeach members of the judicial branch for misconduct.The 55-year-old judge was arrested Aug. 10 after a fight with his wife at an Atlanta hotel. Fuller was put into a pre-trial diver...More >>
  • Small Treasurers coming to Birmingham Museum of Art

    Small Treasurers coming to Birmingham Museum of Art

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 9:29 PM EDT2014-09-17 01:29:42 GMT
    Small Treasures: Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, and Their Contemporaries is coming to the Birmingham Museum of Art early next year. The exhibition, from January 31, 2015 through April 26, 2015, features small 17th-century paintings from the Dutch and Flemish Golden Age. During the period, artists demonstrated precise detail by painting on a small scale. At the time, their technical skills were highly revered, and these paintings had an impact on the work of many artists.The exhibition brings toget...More >>
    Small Treasures: Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, and Their Contemporaries is coming to the Birmingham Museum of Art early next year. The exhibition, from January 31, 2015 through April 26, 2015, features small 17th-century paintings from the Dutch and Flemish Golden Age. During the period, artists demonstrated precise detail by painting on a small scale. At the time, their technical skills were highly revered, and these paintings had an impact on the work of many artists.The exhibition brings toget...More >>
  • Gadsden police officers receive Life Saver Award

    Gadsden police officers receive Life Saver Award

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 8:09 PM EDT2014-09-17 00:09:23 GMT
    After 35 years on the job, August 25 could have been a Gadsden man's last shift for AT&T if it weren't for some Gadsden police officers. Danny Day collapsed while retrieving cable. His hard hat came off as he fell to the ground, and Day hit his head and began to bleed profusely. Two police officers, Josh Russell and Jason Coffman, were on patrol on Forrest Avenue. They drove past Day at the right time. "It happened so quickly, as we were approaching, I just saw a hard hat fall."More >>
    After 35 years on the job, August 25 could have been a Gadsden man's last shift for AT&T if it weren't for some Gadsden police officers. Danny Day collapsed while retrieving cable. His hard hat came off as he fell to the ground, and Day hit his head and began to bleed profusely. Two police officers, Josh Russell and Jason Coffman, were on patrol on Forrest Avenue. They drove past Day at the right time. "It happened so quickly, as we were approaching, I just saw a hard hat fall."More >>
  • Birmingham City School leaders respond to allegations of unqualified administrators

    Birmingham City School leaders respond to allegations of unqualified administrators

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 8:03 PM EDT2014-09-17 00:03:34 GMT
    Birmingham City School leaders are responding to concerns Tuesday involving allegations that two administrators did not hold proper certification for the jobs.More >>
    Birmingham City School leaders are responding to concerns Tuesday involving allegations that two administrators did not hold proper certification for the jobs.More >>
  • Small aircraft makes emergency landing at Chilton County airport

    Small aircraft makes emergency landing at Chilton County airport

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 8:02 PM EDT2014-09-17 00:02:36 GMT
    The pilot of a small aircraft en route to Atlanta on Tuesday was forced to make an emergency landing at the Chilton County airport after the plane lost all power to its engine.More >>
    The pilot of a small aircraft en route to Atlanta on Tuesday was forced to make an emergency landing at the Chilton County airport after the plane lost all power to its engine.More >>
  • Clay leaders propose major budget cuts

    Clay leaders propose major budget cuts

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 7:16 PM EDT2014-09-16 23:16:48 GMT
    One of Jefferson County's youngest cities, Clay, is going through a rough financial patch. Clay incorporated 14 years ago. It had a balanced budget for the first eight years.
    More >>
    One of Jefferson County's youngest cities, Clay, is going through a rough financial patch. Clay incorporated 14 years ago. It had a balanced budget for the first eight years.
    More >>
  • Concerns raised over qualifications of Birmingham City Schools Employees

    Concerns raised over qualifications of Birmingham City Schools Employees

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 6:49 PM EDT2014-09-16 22:49:04 GMT
    Some community and educational leaders are raising concerns Tuesday regarding the qualifications of administrators in the Birmingham City Schools System.More >>
    Some community and educational leaders are raising concerns Tuesday regarding the qualifications of administrators in the Birmingham City Schools System.More >>