The bout of Auburn's defeat by UCF in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on New Year's Day is still felt by the tigers.
"We laid an egg that day," said coach Gus Malzahn – when asked about the effects of the 34-27 defeat in the hands of the knights. "That does not detract from our opponent, the excellent team, but we were not happy with how the season ended.
" That really motivated our team in the summer. I know that our coaches feel the same way.
Auburn captured the SEC West crown after defeating both No. 2 Georgia and No. 1 Alabama during the regular season.
But the Tigers lost their final two games, both in Atlanta in the newly minted Mercedes-Benz Stadium First, the Tigers suffered a disappointing loss in a rematch against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.
The loss dropped Auburn to seventh place in the final College Football playoff ranking and in deference to the semifinals.
] Malzahn believes that disappointing The loss of UCF could be the impetus that will push the Tigers into a new season.
"We have many players who have learned how close we are, and we have our employees, the "That's when I say we're hungry, that's really because of it."
Senior linebacker Deshaun Davis was a bit more direct in his assessment of the loss of Tiger.
"Honestly, it was hard to stand up for this game and know we should have played in the College Football playoffs," Davis told reporters Thursday during the SEC Media Days. "The two teams we conventionally beat [Georgia, Alabama] played in the playoff and national championship game.
" They [UCF] took this game much more seriously than we did, in order to not take credit for them. They are a great football team and they have every right to hold their heads high. They did plays and we did not do any plays. "
Senior quarterback Jarrett Stidham said the team has changed.
" You can feel a different take on this offseason and everyone's really shopped, "Stidham said in 201
"Honestly, it's one of those things you just have to leave behind," Senior defensive tackle Dontavious Russell told the bowl "Our last year's success can not push us into next season, and our pitfalls of last season will not hurt us this season."
Davis added, "All we have to do is get that bad taste out of our mouth when we come back to Atlanta this year. It's in the past and we look forward to playing Washington in the first week and opening the season.
Auburn returns to Atlanta to open the 2018 Washington campaign at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic on September 1
Asked about UCF's decision to proclaim national champions Malzahn diplomatically.
"I really have no opinion except that they are after us, you played very well that day, and I thought they were a very talented team," he said, "I'm not coming so far into this debate. "
Davis, however, had a different view on UCF's claim.
" There really is only one national champion, and that's Alabama, just as I hate saying it. They are the national champions, "said Davis, who was the Tiger's top tacker last season with 82." I'm not a moral winner and if we stayed unbeaten, I would not run around and say we're national champions.
"If we win the SEC, then we know we have a huge one. We were right in saying we deserved to play college football playoffs, and Georgia did that, and that's why they deserve it We have missed our target and we must try to return there. " Malzahn added," There is such a fine line in this conference to win the conference championship and get closer, and we are We need to find a way to take the next step, and that's easier said than done. "
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