Auburn looks to be in a good spot coming off of an unusual three week break. The Tigers essentially got an extended bye week, and one thing fans know about Gus Malzahn is that he is elite coming off of breaks. So far in his head coaching career with the Tigers, Malzahn is an undefeated 9-0, 11-0 if you include his stint with Arkansas State prior to Auburn. The question is if it is simply a fluke or if Malzahn knows how to successfully handle his team during bye weeks.
Malzahn has had four different starting quarterbacks and a bevy of running back talent assist in his undefeated record. Malzahn has certainly had favorable circumstances on a few of his games, with six of them being in Jordan-Hare, two of them being at rival teams stadiums and one being at a neutral site. The three away from Auburn were by far the closest matchups of his post-bye career, with a narrow 20-14 dub against Kansas State in Manhattan from 2014, a 30-27 escape from Lexington in 2015 and a convincing 42-27 victory at Kyle Field in 2017. The Tigers away have also not been nearly as explosive offensively as they are on home-turf. Auburn averages 136 yards less on the ground, almost two less rushing touchdowns and 10 points less than at home. The only stat the Auburn leads in away games after bye weeks is their average passing yards, with about 252 total yards in their three away games.
Granted this is a limited sample size compared to their six home games, most of which are some of the better rushing games Auburn has had during Malzahn’s tenure. Some of those being the 543 yards and seven touchdown game against Arkansas in 2016, one of the most potent rushing games in Auburn football history. In fact, it is only 22 yards away from Auburn’s record of 565 set in 1985 against the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns. Another being a 395 rushing yard game, including five rushing touchdown outing from Nick Marshall in 2014 versus the South Carolina Gamecocks. Auburn averages about 305 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns per game and pair that with 40.1 points per game to only 20.3 for the opponent in Jordan-Hare and a winning streak forms.
However, all of that doesn’t matter when THE Auburn moment took place during a different Malzahn post-bye game. The famed “Kick-Six” was Malzahn’s second after-bye game with the Tigers, and it is one to remember. The game was much more than the Chris Davis 109 yard game winning return though. Malzahn was able to get 296 yards and two touchdowns on the ground along with two passing touchdowns from Marshall. While the game did end up being decided by Chris Davis’ historic return, Malzahn and the Auburn offense cannot be forgotten in the annals of history.
Gus Malzahn and the Auburn Tigers will look to go to an even 10-0 this weekend when the Tennessee Volunteers come to the Plains to face Malzahn after a three week hiatus from football. Historically the statistics are on Auburn's side, but the Tigers have had trouble with Tennessee in the past. Tune in at 6 p.m. CST on Saturday to see the Tigers face the Volunteers.