Coming off an emphatic home win vs Alabama in what Bruce Pearl called “The most important game of the year,” Auburn will travel down to Gainesville, FL to take on the Florida Gators, a road trip that has proved to be a tricky one for Auburn and Bruce Pearl. Pearl is yet to win a game in Gainesville as Auburn’s head coach, and Auburn itself hasn’t won in Gainesville since 1996.
Auburn enters the matchup at 19-4 overall and 8-2 in SEC play, sitting in a three-way tie atop the league with Alabama and South Carolina. The Tigers are currently in what could be considered their best form of the season after recent statement wins vs both Ole Miss and rival Alabama by double-digits. Despite this, Coach Pearl knows he can’t afford to let his team get complacent.
“Coming off the second half vs Ole Miss and two halves vs Alabama, which are probably the best three halves we’ve played all year, I’m going to go back and remind our guys about what we were like at Alabama, or at Mississippi State, or even at Ole Miss in the first half,” said Pearl.
Florida, meanwhile, comes in at 15-7 overall and 5-4 in conference play, seventh in the SEC. However, the Gators aren’t to be taken lightly. The Gators have an especially strong offense, ranking tenth in the nation in points per game. They are also good at creating second chances, posting the second-best mark in the nation in offensive rebounds.
“I have thought, and I still think, that Florida is a sleeper,” Coach Bruce Pearl stated. “I said it pretty early on. Not just because Todd Golden is my dear friend and former assistant, but I think they know it too.” Pearl went on to add to this sentiment, saying “The body of our work on the road is still not very good. It’s not good enough to beat Florida unless we really step up.”
Stepping up is something the Tigers will need to take seriously, as their four games after the trip to Gainesville contain SEC frontrunners South Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee, with a trip to Athens to take on Georgia added in for good measure. The Tigers will find out if they can pass the Gators' road test on Saturday afternoon, with tip-off scheduled for 2:30 on the SEC Network.