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The Auburn Tigers are in the middle of a late-season scheduling gauntlet that they haven't seen since the first year after legendary running back Bo Jackson's departure some 28 years ago.
"We've got three top-10 teams on the road," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said when asked about the College Football Playoff on Tuesday, via Joel A. Erickson of AL.com. "I don't think there's another team in college football that can say that. We've already went to Kansas State, which I think is the No. 11 (No. 9 in CFP rankings), we've already went to the No. 1 team on the road."
From a quality of opponent perspective, the Auburn Tigers football program hasn't faced a task like this since 1986.
Per Erickson, "undefeated after its first six games, the first Tigers team in the post-Bo Jackson era found itself staring down a five-game stretch that looked a lot like the one the current edition is about to start: at No. 13 Mississippi State, at No. 20 Florida, home against unranked Cincinnati and No. 17 Georgia, then heading to a neutral site in Birmingham against No. 7 Alabama."
Auburn ended up going 3-2 during that stretch, finishing 9-2 and accepting an invitation to the Citrus Bowl.
This Auburn team, on the other hand, will face #4 Ole Miss, #6 Alabama, and #11 Georgia in November. It's possible that this Auburn team's road might be tougher, but the fact remains that it's still a historic run of quality opponents Gus Malzahn's crew will have to navigate in order to secure a berth in the first-ever College Football Playoff.
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