2013 Results: 12-2 SEC Champions (7-1); Lost BCS National Championship Game
2013 Highlight: Won SEC Championship in Gus Malzahn’s first year as coach. (The field goal return for a TD to beat Alabama was a close second)
2013 Lowlight: BCS Championship game loss.
2014 Outlook: Starting QB Nick Marshall will not start the season opener vs. Arkansas because of an offseason marijuana possession arrest, but we have no idea how long he will sit out. The Tigers are starring down the barrel of a very tough schedule which includes trips to Oxford, Athens, Tuscaloosa and an early season trip to Kansas State on a Thursday night. Auburn will be hard pressed to repeat last year’s success. A big question will be are they actually as good as they showed last year? They will have to replace NFL draftee Tre Mason’s productivity in the backfield. Mason accounted for 40% of their rushing offense and 48% of their rushing TDs.
Biggest Issue to Solve: Offensive Line. Auburn was ranked #1 in the conference and #1 in the NCAA in rushing, averaging 328.3 yards per game. A talented offensive line had quite a bit to do with that. The Tigers have lost three of their linemen from last years team; one in Greg Robinson to the NFL and two projected starters Alex Kozan and Carl Lawson both lost to season ending injuries. Unless there’s some real O-line talent on the plains, there won’t be a repeat of last year’s rushing dominance.
Key Players: QB Nick Marshall, WR Sammie Coates, C Reese Dismukes
Most Important Game: Oct. 4th vs. LSU; Auburn is 1-7 in the last 8 years against the Bayou Bengals. They get LSU early in the season at home and this game should show how good Auburn really is this year.
Media Prediction (SEC finish): 2nd SEC West
My Prediction (SEC finish): 3rd SEC West (5-3)
My Overall Record Prediction: 8-4
Why?: Let’s face it, Auburn got EXTREMELY lucky in two wins last year. Had they lost either or both of those games, their season would have been much different. I’m personally not convinced that Nick Marshall is an SEC Player of the Year caliber quarterback. Auburn’s tough schedule will make repeating last year’s success basically impossible. I think they lose on the road at Kansas State. Not because I think K-State is a superior team, but because Thursday night games have not been kind to road favorites in the recent past. If they somehow find a way to lose to Arkansas in the season opener it may tear a hole in the universe!
Next: Florida Gators