Auburn begins a tough end-of-the-season stretch Saturday when the Tigers play host to Georgia, which is ranked No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings.

Coach Gus Malzahn was a guest on The Paul Finebaum Show Friday as the SEC Network’s “SEC Nation” pregame show will air from Auburn Saturday morning ahead of the 3:30 p.m. Eastern kickoff on CBS. Malzahn said Georgia is as good as advertised running the football and that Auburn must play at a high level to stop the Bulldogs, which is easier said than done.

Auburn has won two straight after a loss against LSU and the coach believes his team is in a good spot right now.

“We’ve had some ups and downs early, had some growing pains,” he said. “But right now we’re playing at a high level. We’re starting to get healthy defensively. Offensively, our quarterback’s got some experience and we’re playing good football. We’ll need to play good football tomorrow against the No. 1 team in the country.”

New quarterback Jarrett Stidham went through a “process,” the coach said, following the loss against Clemson as he gained experience at Auburn and in the SEC as offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey learned about Stidham and the other players around him.

“Right now we’re very balanced and that’s the reason we brought in Chip Lindsey, he’s done a great job,” Malzahn said. “A lot of it has to do with Jarrett’s arm, our receivers are starting to grow up and we’ve been able to run the football, too. So I think that’s been a big deal.”

Malzahn said he couldn’t think about outside noise from so-called pundits.

“Really, all I think about is winning a championship,” Malzahn said. “We’re playing the No. 1 team in the country on our home field. This is the moment we’ve been waiting on. We’ve been thinking about that, so me personally, that’s the only thing on my mind with our team.”

Malzahn said with his players, “the urgency was different this week than it’s been all year, and that’s a good thing.”