No. 10 Auburn hosts Tulane, Tigers look to avoid letdown
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By JOHN ZENOR
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Auburn coach Gus Malzahn hopes the Tigers have moved on from their opening game celebration after the team's big win against Oregon.
Freshman quarterback Bo Nix and the 10th-ranked Tigers need to avoid a letdown against double-digit underdog Tulane Saturday night.
Both teams won their openers but Auburn is trying to sustain the good mood generated by a 27-21 win over No. 16 Oregon . It came on Nix's touchdown pass to Seth Williams with 9 seconds left.
"That was a big emotional win and everything that goes with that," Malzahn said. "You've got to put that in your rear view mirror. Everybody's patting you on the back and everything.
"You've got to put that in your rear view mirror and realize that we're playing a very quality opponent. Our players turn on the film and they can tell these guys play their guts out. They play hard and they're talented."
The Green Wave, who beat Florida International 42-14 , are 17-1/2-point underdogs. They haven't beaten a ranked team in some 35 years.
Coach Willie Fritz is hoping his team won't be intimidated by the surroundings at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
"God I hope not," Fritz said. "I told our guys we are going to go over there on Friday to walk around the field. It will kind of be like Hoosiers. It will be 120 yards long and 53-1/3 yards in width. They are going to have a 10-yard end zone and all that kind of stuff.
"We are going to walk around out there, take all our pictures, get the selfies going and then Saturday we are going in there for business."
If it helps, Tulane actually leads the all-time series 17-14-6. Then again, they've only met one other time since 1955.
Here are some other things to look for in the Tulane-Auburn game:
QB PART 1
Nix seemed to get better as he went on in his college debut. He converted a key fourth-down play on the final drive with a run even before the game-winning TD, but also was intercepted twice.
"He at least has a game under his belt now," Malzahn said. "There's a lot of things that he knows that he can be better than he was the first game, so we all expect improvement."
QB PART II
Tulane's Justin McMillan, a transfer from LSU, is 6-1 as the Green Wave starter. He accounted for three passing touchdowns and one rushing score against FIU.
Tulane piled up 350 rushing yards in the opener but now faces perhaps the Southeastern Conference's top defensive line. Auburn may try to divvy carries up more behind tailback JaTarvious Whitlow, who had 24 runs against Oregon.
One key, especially with a young quarterback, will be protecting him. That's a challenge against a Tulane pass rush led by defensive lineman Patrick Johnson, who had 10.5 sacks last season.
Auburn and Tulane met every year but one from 1921-55, but only once since then. They played in several different locales but only twice before in Auburn.
"To have the opportunity to win this game, we are going to have to play great," Fritz said.
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Updated September 6, 2019