2015 Auburn Predictions

The Auburn Tigers opened up the 2014 campaign 5-0 with a road win at Kansas State (20-14) and a blowout victory at home against LSU (41-7). From there Auburn would go just 3-5 over their final 8 games to finish up 8-5 (4-4 SEC), including a 31-34 overtime loss to Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl.

It was a minor setback after the Tigers improbable run to the SEC West title and spot in the BCS Championship Game in 2013. Still, there was plenty of reason to remain excited about the direction that head coach Guz Malzahn has the program headed. Auburn was +82.3 yards/game in SEC play (2nd best).

Offensively the Tigers continue to put up big time numbers under Malzahn and his offensive genius has few worrying about the fact that Auburn has just 4 starters back on offense in 2015. What has fans excited is the addition of new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, who spent the last 4 years at Florida. While the Gators underachieved overall under Muschamp, the defense was not to blame.

Last Season
SEC (West)
Overall
ATS Record
Over/Under
Points For
Points Against
4-4 (T-4th)
8-5
4-9
7-5-1
35.5
26.7
Schedule
Date Opponent
Spread (Est.)
Win Chance
9/5 Louisville (Atlanta)
-13
.83
9/12 Jacksonville State
-38
1
9/19 @ LSU
+3
.43
9/26 Mississippi State
-8
.74
10/3 San Jose State
-35
1
10/15 @ Kentucky
-9
.75
10/24 @ Arkansas
+1.5
.48
10/31 Ole Miss
-6
.66
11/7 @ Texas A&M
-2
.53
11/14 Georgia
-2.5
.54
11/21 Idaho
-45
1
11/28 Alabama
+2
.47
Estimated Wins: 8.43
Roster Breakdown

Those that don’t follow Auburn football closely, might be down on the Tigers after losing 2-year starting quarterback Nick Marshall, but they have all the confidence in junior Jeremy Johnson to step in and put up big numbers. Johnson might not provide the same duel threat as Marshall (798 yards & 11 TDs on the ground), but he’s more than capable of matching or exceeding his passing numbers.

Marshall isn’t the only playmaker lost from last season. The Tigers have to replace leading rusher Cameron Artis-Payne (1,608 yards, 13 TDs), as well as wide outs Sammie Coates (741 yards, 4 TDs) and Quan Bray (471 yards, 4 TDs).

Auburn has options at running back. They return sophomores Roc Thomas and Peyton Barber, but are excited about the potential of junior college transfer Jovon Robinson, who rushed for 2,387 yards and 34 TDs at JUCO in 2013.

They also have a big time weapon back at wide receiver in D’Haquille “Duke” Williams, who is considered one of the top prospects at his position for the 2016 NFL Draft. Williams had 45 catches for 730 yards and 5 scores, despite missing 3 games.

What has me not worried about the Tigers offense in 2015, is the talent they have up front on the offensive line. Auburn returns both starting tackles, get back 1st Team Freshman All-American left guard Alex Kozan (missed all of last year), plus they add in highly recruited Ole Miss transfer Austin Golson at center.

It’s not like Auburn has been awful defensively since Malzahn has taken over, but it’s certainly an area they can improve. Adding a proven defensive coach in Muschamp brings a lot of excitement, especially with 8 starters coming back on that side of the ball.

Auburn has All-SEC talent littered across their defense. The strength of the stop unit comes with the two-headed monster at linebacker in seniors Cassanova McKinzy and Kris Frost, who both are headed to the NFL once their careers are over with the Tigers.

There’s also a lot to get excited about the defensive front. Talented defensive end Carl Lawson returns after missing all of last year with a torn ACL. They also return starting defensive end DaVonte Lambert and defensive tackle Montravius Adams.

If the front 7 is as good as it looks on paper, Auburn’s experienced secondary could be in for a lot of big plays. Seniors Joshua Holsey and Jooathan Jones return at corner, while leading tackler Jonathan Ford is back at safety. They also welcome back sophomore safety Tray Matthews, who red-shirted last year after starting 6 games as a true freshman.

Future Odds
Regular Season Win Total
SEC West Odds
SEC Championship Odds
Playoff Odds
National Championship Odds
8.5
+345
+500
+275
+1150
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes
Season Predictions

I had a difficult time not picking Auburn to win the SEC West, especially considering Auburn gets to host Alabama this year. The concern for me is that while the offense will continue to put up big numbers, it won’t be as explosive without the threat of a running quarterback. Defensively they are going to be solid, even with the learning curve that comes with a new coordinator, but Alabama’s defense looks like an elite unit.

The schedule does provide some big hurdles outside of the Iron Bowl. Auburn has to open on a neutral setting against a dangerous Louisville team and shortly after has to travel to Death Valley to take on what figures to be a much-improved LSU team. They also have a couple of road tests at Auburn and Texas A&M, as well as a difficult home games against Ole Miss and Georgia.

It wouldn’t come as a surprise at all if Auburn ended up winning the SEC West, which is as deep and strong as I can remember. If Johnson plays up to his potential at quarterback and Muschamp has the kind of impact they are hoping for with the defense, the Tigers are more than capable of winning a national championship. I have Auburn going 6-2 in the SEC (2nd West) and 10-2 overall. Needless to say, I think the OVER 8.5 on their season win total is a strong play.

2015 Projections
SEC (West)
SEC Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
2nd
6-2
10-2
OVER 8.5
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