Even the most casual college fans know that Auburn is one of the biggest names in college football. Here are five things to know about the Tigers, ranging from their current season to a 19th Century head coach whose name frequently is mentioned every year.
About Auburn (9-3): The Tigers lost only to ranked teams this season: No. 10 Florida, No. 2 LSU and No. 4 Georgia, by a combined 21 points. But they beat ranked teams in No. 11 Oregon, 27-21, No. 17 Texas A&M, 28-20, and No. 5 Alabama, 48-45. This will be Auburn’s fifth appearance in the Outback Bowl, most recently a 34-31 overtime loss to Wisconsin in 2015. Early betting lines have Auburn as a 10-point favorite.
Auburn’s best players: Defensive lineman Derrick Brown has been a force for the Tigers, being named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week three times this season. Coach Gus Malzahn thinks he should be a Heisman Trophy candidate, but that's a longshot considering the talented offensive players who have made names for themselves this season. Brown is a finalist for six other national awards. True freshman quarterback Bo Nix has accumulated 2,366 passing yards in his first season, completing 200 of 351 passes with a 15-to-6 touchdown to interception ratio. He’s also rushed for 301 yards on 91 carries for seven touchdowns. Top running back JaTarvious Whitlow has carried the ball 147 times for 739 yards and nine touchdowns, while receiver Seth Williams has made 55 catches for 801 yards and eight TDs. Defensive back Jeremiah Dinson leads the team with 79 tackles, while defensive end Marlon Davidson has 7.5 sacks.
Auburn’s coach: Gus Malzahn has a 62-30 record in seven seasons. Since 2013, he’s also led Auburn to an SEC championship, two SEC West Division titles and a BCS National Championship Game appearance.
Auburn's bowl history: The Tigers have played in a bowl game in all but two seasons since 2000 (2008 and 2012). That includes the BCS title games in 2010 (a win over Oregon) and 2012 (a loss to Florida State). Auburn has a 24-17-2 bowl record, but has lost four of its last six postseason games. In the two seasons when the Tigers didn't go to a bowl game, their head coach was fired.
Auburn's most famous football players and coach: QB Cam Newton (2010), RB Bo Jackson (1992-95), QB Pat Sullivan (1969-71), Coach John Heisman (1895-99). Yes, he's the Heisman of the Heisman Trophy