The News Courier in Athens, Alabama


January 1, 2014

No. 2 Auburn arrives in California all business

— ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Gus Malzahn knows this is no ordinary bowl preparation, but No. 2 Auburn's coach said the big-game trappings won't distract his team.

The different scene was evident when the straight-laced Malzahn and players Reese Dismukes and Dee Ford posed for photos with Disney characters right after climbing off the team bus upon arriving in Southern California on Tuesday night.

The Tigers (12-1) are surprising participants in Monday night's BCS championship game with No. 1 Florida State at the Rose Bowl.

"I'll just say this about these guys," Malzahn said at Downtown Disney's ESPN Zone. "They've found a way to stay focused and get prepared each week, no matter who we were playing, whether we were playing Alabama or a Division I-AA team.

"This group has been extremely focused. They've worked hard. They've acted exactly the same way in practice. There's no doubt in my mind that we're not going to be distracted."

The Tigers are trying to keep the businesslike approach that has led to nine straight wins, even if a couple of them were settled in extraordinary fashion.

Auburn rode last-gasp wins over Alabama and Georgia and an overpowering SEC championship game against Missouri into the matchup with Florida State.

Now, the Tigers say they're intent on just going to work ahead of the biggest one of them all.

"Just taking the experience and enjoying everything that's going on," said Dismukes, an offensive lineman who seemed mostly bemused by the Disney to-do. "When it's time to go to work, you've got to go to work."

Senior defensive end Dee Ford wants to savor the experience — and finish his career with a win.

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