Struggling Auburn looking to become bowl eligible vs. Idaho

Struggling Auburn looking to become bowl eligible vs. Idaho

Published Nov. 20, 2015 12:17 p.m. ET

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) The Auburn Tigers have downsized their primary goal from winning championships to just making a bowl game.

They're hoping to become eligible for postseason play with a win over 33-point underdog Idaho on Saturday. The Tigers (5-5) need another win to become bowl eligible and to avoid further embarrassment in an already disappointing season.

''Our goal is to get a victory and get bowl eligible,'' Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. ''And that's what's on our mind.''

In other words, Auburn's trying not to dwell on the latest close loss, to Georgia or the regular season finale against No. 3 Alabama in the Iron Bowl.


The Tigers' overtime victory over FCS team Jacksonville State in September proved they can't take any opponent for granted this season. This game still might be an opportunity for the passing game and offense to get going after quarterbacks Jeremy Johnson and Sean White both struggled against the Bulldogs.

Idaho (3-7) has lost three straight games in which the Vandals have allowed 154 points. Auburn has scored just 58 points during that stretch, 26 of those coming in a win over Texas A&M.

Malzahn expects Johnson to continue as the starter with White still recovering from a knee injury.

This is Idaho's second game of the season against a Power 5 conference team, having lost 59-9 to Southern California on Sept. 12. Vandals coach Paul Petrino does have some experience visiting Jordan-Hare Stadium as an Arkansas assistant. The Razorbacks won at Jordan-Hare in 2008 and 2012.

''It's a great place to play,'' Petrino said. ''I told my players the other day I've been lucky enough coach in that stadium twice and I've been lucky enough to come away both times with a win.''

No. 3 would be the biggest of them all.


Here are some things to watch when Auburn hosts Idaho:

OH BROTHERS: Auburn has already played Paul Petrino's brother, Bobby. The Tigers beat Bobby Petrino's Louisville team in their opener at the Georgia Dome. Malzahn's not interested in the novelty of that situation. ''Each one of those guys is a little bit different even though they've been together a long time and they're both good at what they do,'' he said.

SPECIALISTS: The strength of both teams has been in the kicking game. Idaho's Austin Rehkow is second nationally in field goals per game, averaging two an outing. He's also fifth in punting with a 46-yard average. He and Auburn's Daniel Carlson are tied for the national lead with 20 field goals with only three misses apiece. Carlson is the nation's only kicker with four field goals of 51-plus yards this season. That includes a 56-yarder against Louisville.

RETURNING TO ALABAMA: This is Idaho's third trip to Alabama this season, and Petrino said the Vandals played two of their better games in the state. They beat Troy 19-16 for their first road win since 2011 and lost 52-48 to South Alabama in a pair of Sun Belt Conference games. The Vandals are traveling 2,079 miles for this one.

AUBURN CENTER: Malzahn isn't optimistic about center Austin Golson's prospects for playing in this game. Golson injured his right knee against Georgia. Devonte Danzey has been working at center for about five weeks with normal backup Xavier Dampeer out with an unspecified injury.

STREAK: Auburn's trying to extend a 28-game nonconference home winning streak that began after a 26-23 overtime loss to South Florida in 2007.