War Eagle Extra

Iron Bowl? College football playoff? Only thing on Auburn’s mind is Vanderbilt

Auburn players celebrate with fans after an NCAA college football game against Mississippi in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016.
Auburn players celebrate with fans after an NCAA college football game against Mississippi in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. AP

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn flashed a little bit of fire during his weekly Tuesday press conference.

A mostly subdued Malzahn cut off a question about his team’s focus drifting to the Iron Bowl or possible SEC Championship run.

While Auburn (6-2; 4-1 SEC) continues to climb up the AP Rankings — they were ranked No. 10 this week — and is expected to be a top 10 team in the first college football playoff rankings released Tuesday night, the increased national spotlight isn’t a topic of discussion in the Tigers’ locker room.

"The only thing we talked about is Vanderbilt,” Malzahn said. “We got our hands full. Hypotheticals in this league? If you look ahead in this league you get burned. We got our hands full. Our players know that and our coaches know that. We haven’t said one word about the rest of the schedule.”

Malzahn emphasized the point by praising Vanderbilt more than he has any other opponent this season complimenting the Commodores’ discipline, running back Ralph Webb, linebacker Zach Cunningham, coach Derek Mason and a defensive unit holding teams to less than 15 points a game in the SEC.

“They beat Georgia at Georgia,” Malzahn said. “They played Florida down to the very end. A very good football team. They have our full attention.”

Auburn defensive back Josh Holsey is happier to indulge fans making travel plans to Atlanta for the SEC Championship than his coach, but the senior doesn’t see players picking up any bad habits given where the season started.

“You just can’t get too big-headed into those type of things,” Holsey said. “You have to stay focused and stay level-headed. There’s a chance to get too far ahead of yourself when you start winning and that’s when a team slips up. We are hungry right now still. We still have a lot to prove.”

The game also has a little added personal motivation for Holsey, who is one of only two players (Alex Kozan) still on the roster that played in a 17-13 losing effort in Nashville during the 2012 season.

“I was on the field when we lost, it kind of sucks, I remember that game,” Holsey said. “That was a very long trip back too. We have to make sure I can come away with at least 1-1 with those guys before I leave Auburn.”

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra

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