I thought Saturday was a big game for Georgia, but Jerry Hinnen gives it near-apocalyptic status for Auburn… and Gus Malzahn in particular.
Skywrite it with airplanes. Build a second Mothratron atop the first, and have them display it in all-caps. Cut it maze-style into a cornfield the size of Nebraska, so it can only be read from 747s and space shuttles.
The question before Auburn football cannot be written largely enough, cannot be asked too loudly:
What is Gus Malzahn’s ceiling as Auburn coach?
That Auburn fans have now spent almost three full seasons waiting for an answer goes a long way toward explaining why Saturday’s showdown with No. 1 Georgia is the program’s biggest game since playing Florida State for the 2013 national championship.
Yes, it’s the hated Bulldogs. Yes, Auburn’s dreams of an SEC West title — and perhaps even bigger prizes beyond — are on the line. Yes, defeating the College Football Playoff’s top-ranked team in Jordan-Hare Stadium would be a victory for the ages regardless of the coach’s status. But the stakes for this game start with nothing less than whether Malzahn can still produce performances worthy of remaining on Auburn’s sideline.
I’m not sure that Saturday is as much on Gus as it is on Jarrett Stidham. Auburn’s beaten Georgia twice in, what, the last eleven years? And both times it took a quarterback having a tremendous season both running and throwing the ball to get the Tigers over the hump. While they do let Stidham run (he averages about seven carries a game), nobody is going to mistake him for Cam or Marshall.
It ain’t gonna bother me, though, if Gus is feeling a little pressure going in. Just keep that effing rabbit’s foot away…