Auburn, Ala — After two SEC wins on the road against Vanderbilt and Arkansas, the Auburn Tigers return to the Plains to face off against New Mexico State one week before the Iron Bowl.
“We'll be faced with some of the normal challenges of wanting to rest on last week, and all those things that come as temptations, and we'll have to fight against that,” Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze said, which applies very heavily to this week’s game, especially since the Iron Bowl is right around the corner.
Auburn is certainly going to have to focus and buckle down for the game this week, and not take their foot off the gas so they can head into the Iron Bowl on a four-game winning streak. However, at 8-3, New Mexico State is “one of the better Group of Five teams” according to Freeze.
When looking at the New Mexico State game, Auburn should have some confidence going in as both Auburn and New Mexico State played UMass at the start of the season, and where Auburn defeated UMass 59-14, New Mexico State lost to UMass 41-30.
It's not to say, that Auburn will not win Saturday’s game, but people cannot look at the games at the start of the season and say Auburn will defeat New Mexico State because Auburn beat UMass who beat New Mexico State.
Freeze describes New Mexico State the best: “They've gotten better and better and better as the year has progressed,” and, “They've continued to improve as the year has gone on, and they're a very talented team and play extremely hard.”
For Auburn to win on Saturday, the Tigers will have to play with the same amount of energy, enthusiasm, and focus as they’ve been playing with in these past three weeks, even though they may be inclined to think that this game will be easy and focus on the Alabama Game.
In addition to focusing on this week’s game against New Mexico State, not next week’s game against Alabama, Auburn’s defense is going to want to watch out for quarterback Diego Pavia.
Diego Pavia has thrown for 19 touchdowns with only six interceptions in eleven games this season, rushed for five touchdowns while averaged 64.09 yards on the ground per game, the second most rushing yards on the New Mexico State team.
Freeze noted that Pavia is “a very talented quarterback. Extremely, extremely tough, and mobile. He’s handful, for sure. They are using him in a lot of ways.”
Auburn’s defense will certainly want to pay close attention to Pavia, as he is an extremely dynamic quarterback who can both run and throw the ball very successfully, which might cause some trouble for Auburn if they are not expecting such a quarterback.
For Saturday Auburn just needs to be focused and ready for the game this week, and not worry too much about the Iron Bowl, as both Auburn and New Mexico State look to improve their bowl standings.
The hope for Auburn is that it can keep their three-game winning streak alive as they face off against New Mexico State. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. CT with broadcasting on the SEC Network and Auburn Sports Network.