Auburn football: 5 reasons the Tigers will beat Florida
It has been quite some time since Auburn and Florida played a game of such high importance, something that regularly happened when they squared off each year.
Auburn put up its most complete game Saturday against Mississippi State and showed how good it can be. Gus Malzahn and the Tigers already have 2 Top 25 wins and will be looking to make yet another statement when they take on the Gators in The Swamp.
As No 7 Auburn and No. 10 Florida face off, here are 5 reasons the Tigers will come away victorious.
1. Defensive line will make things difficult for Florida
As I wrote Wednesday, this is an opportunity for Auburn’s defensive line to make a statement that they belong among the elite in the nation. That starts with shutting down the Gators’ rushing attack and forcing Kyle Trask to beat them. While Trask has been playing well since taking over for Feleipe Franks, he hasn’t seen a front 4 like this, especially the likes of Derrick Brown.
Perhaps it was a motivational ploy, but Gators coach Dan Mullen has called out his offensive line, chiding them for not creating more opportunities in the run game.
He knows this game will be decided in the trenches. Bottom line: Auburn’s defensive line is better than Florida’s offensive line.
2. Evolution of offense
The running game struggled at the beginning of the year, Bo Nix was still growing into his role of a college quarterback and the wide receiver corps was a bit depleted due to a couple of injuries. That is no longer the case as the Tigers came alive against the Bulldogs, putting together a complete performance.
Florida’s defense has gotten after quarterbacks, but nearly half of their sacks came in a Week 0 opener against Miami, which featured a new head coach, new system and new starting quarterback. Remove those 10 sacks, and the Gators have 14 in 4 games, including just 1 at Kentucky.
Bo Nix is anything but a sitting duck in the pocket. Auburn has allowed just 6 sacks, among the fewest in the SEC. Todd Grantham is known for dialing up exotic blitz packages, and he’s sure to bring the heat Saturday, too. But he also must be wary that if Nix escapes the initial wave, he is capable of hurting the Gators with his legs. Nix has had a 13-yard run (or more) in each game this season, with a long of 30 last week against Mississippi State.
Florida’s defense, while stout, hasn’t seen an offense this good this season. Actually, far from it. Which brings me to the point of …
3. Big game experience
Auburn has it. Florida doesn’t. The Gators’ toughest games this season have been against Miami (2-2) and at Kentucky (2-3). Granted, it helps that Florida will have the home-field advantage, one of the best in the nation when it is rocking, but how calm, cool and collected will the Gators be, especially if they fall behind early?
4. Florida scheduled the Tigers … for Homecoming!
It’s not like you need extra motivation for a top 10 matchup against an SEC rival, but that is exactly what the Florida athletic department did when it decided to schedule Auburn as its homecoming opponent, something usually reserved for cupcakes.
“Words can’t even explain it, but I mean, it’s another game,” Marlon Davidson said when asked about this fact.
While Jeremiah Dinson gave a simple, “No comment,” you better believe that being the Gators’ opponent for their annual homecoming will give the Tigers an extra edge on Saturday.
5. Auburn is the better team
When you boil it all down, it comes to the fact that the Tigers are a more complete team than the Gators. With the offense clicking and a defense that has shown it can be dominant, this is possibly becoming Malzahn’s best team in his seven-year tenure. Don’t get me wrong, Florida is good and are a dangerous team, but in almost every aspect of the game, Auburn is better.