AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — The Auburn Tigers have had no choice but to revise their goals for this season.
Competitive losses to three Top 10 teams have knocked the 16th-ranked Tigers (7-3) from even longshot playoff and Southeastern Conference contention. They host in-state FCS team Samford (5-6) Saturday with a new goal firmly in place.
“Our goal now is to win 10 games, which is extremely hard to do with the schedule like we have,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said.
Auburn finally snapped out of an offensive funk in the fourth quarter against No. 4 Georgia, but fell 21-14. Meeting that 10-win goal would require not only beating Samford, a private school in suburban Birmingham, but No. 5 Alabama and a bowl opponent to be named later.
The next step toward that 10-win goal should be the easiest one
But Auburn is still trying to get into gear offensively. Georgia and the SEC’s top defense held the Tigers scoreless through three quarters.
The Tigers’ defense hasn’t been the issue.
“This is the best defense I’ve ever faced in my entire life,” said Samford coach Chris Hatcher, wrapping up his 20th season as a college head coach. “They are a really top-echelon of college football, football team, especially on the defensive side.”
It’s the season finale for Samford, which has played a total of eight overtime periods, going 1-3 in games that went into OT.
Some other things to know about Auburn’s matchup against Samford:
This game should supply Auburn with its best chance to get new backup quarterback Cord Sandberg some experience. Sandberg moved up to the No. 2 spot behind Bo Nix with the late-October departure of Joey Gatewood, who plans to transfer. The former minor league baseball player hasn’t attempted a pass this season and has one rush for 4 yards.
SAMFORD VS. SEC
The Bulldogs are 2-77-3 all-time against current members of the Southeastern Conference, going 0-27-1 against Auburn. The Tigers have shut out Samford 18 times among those 28 meetings. The Bulldogs haven’t been shut out in their last 213 games.
BURNS & SAMFORD
Auburn co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach Kodi Burns got his first full-time coaching position at Samford. He coached the Bulldogs’ running backs in 2014 under former Auburn Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan.
AU RUNNING GAME
JaTarvious Whitlow, D.J. Williams and Auburn’s other running backs want to get going again. Nix was Auburn’s leading rusher against Georgia. Whitlow, returning from a knee injury, gained 23 yards on 11 carries and Williams wasn’t much more effective (eight rushes, 26 yards).
Samford quarterback Chris Oladokun is a threat as both a passer and a runner. He has passed for 2,064 yards and 18 touchdowns. Oladokun is also the team’s No. 2 rusher with 488 yards and eight TDs.