That's because the sixth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs did what few expected - blow past No. 2 Auburn 28-7 to win the SEC Championship Game and presumably clinch a spot in the four-team playoff, set to be announced Sunday afternoon.
Kerryon Johnson, who played despite an ailing shoulder, was stripped of the ball and Smith scooped it up again at the Auburn 39, retaining the spiked, Road Warrior-style vest that Georgia awards to players who take the ball away from the other team, the Dawgs' version of the turnover chain.
Georgia hasn't played in a Rose Bowl since the 1942 season, but that would be its destination should Clemson be No. 1 in the playoff rankings and the Bulldogs either No. 2 or No. 3. Kickoff is at 5:10 p.m. ET. Malzahn won a national championship with the Tigers as the team's offensive coordinator under Chizik in 2010 and led them back to the title game in his first season in 2013. This would be the Bulldogs first chance at playing in a national title game since 1982.
Smith was named MVP of the game after racking up 13 tackles, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hurries and two fumble recoveries. Auburn was ranked second in the CFP poll but managed only 259 yards after piling up 488 in its November 11 rout of the Bulldogs.
"We were ready", Fromm said.
Jarrett Stidham capped the opening possession with s 6-yard scoring pass to Nate Craig-Myers, and Auburn pushed into position to extend its lead early in the second quarter.
When asked if Arkansas should even bother coming after him, Malzahn responded, "I'm the head coach at Auburn, and I just said I want to be the head coach at Auburn".
Malzahn is in his fifth season at Auburn and is 45-21.
"We have great players". But the Tigers were stymied by their own mistakes, also including a blocked field goal, and they had no answer for a Georgia team eager to make up for its embarrassing 40-17 defeat on the Plains.
Auburn started out the game like it was headed for another big win. This forced Georgia to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Blankenship, giving the Bulldogs their 10-7 lead that they would carry into the locker room. It was a physical, tough game, and we kept our composure for the most part.
"Strength and stability go hand-in-hand, and we have both in coach Malzahn", Auburn President Steven Leath said in a statement.
"We had some moments in there".