Auburn was a popular pick to win the SEC West in 2015 and needless to say the Tigers disappointed. Auburn instead finished last in the West with a 2-6 conference mark.
They were able to go 4-0 in non-conference play to go 6-6 overall and get to postseason play. They would go on to destroy Memphis 31-10 in the Birmingham Bowl to end the year at 7-6.
Guz Malzahn guided the Tigers to a 12-2 season and near national championship in his first season. Things have been trending the wrong direction since.
After failing to live up to the hype this past season, expectations are limited going into 2016. With that said, the West can be full of surprises and the Tigers can’t be overlooked.
|Date||Opponent||Spread (Est.)||Win Chance|
|10/8||@ Mississippi State|
|10/29||@ Ole Miss|
|Estimated Wins: TBD|
*We take the win chance by using the college football win percentage chart for each point spread.
Auburn won’t have to wait long to prove themselves against one of the best teams in the country. The Tigers open the season at home against last year’s runner-up in Clemson. A win in that game could light a fire under this team, but most importantly they need to at least be competitive.
Auburn will stay at home for their next four, as they don’t hit the road until October. Two key matchups during this stretch are against fellow West rivals in Texas A&M and LSU. Two more opportunities for the Tigers to remind everyone that last year was a fluke.
They will alternate home and away games the rest of the way. Where they finish in the standings will have a lot to do with their play on the road. While they only have 4 road games, none of which will be easy. Especially the last 3 against Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama.
Many experts thought Jeremy Johnson would have no problem replacing Nick Marshall at quarterback. A big reason why so many were so high on this team.
That proved to be a mistake. Johnson went from a Heisman favorite to getting benched in favor of Sean White. He would end up retaking the job late, but the offense was nothing like we had seen the first years under Malzahn.
Auburn went from averaging 35.5 ppg and 485 ypg to just 27.5 ppg and 370 ypg. After putting up 328 rushing yards/game in 2013 and 255 in 2014, the Tigers managed just 196. A lot of that had to do with the lack of mobility at quarterback.
While Johnson returns for his senior season, he likely won’t be the starter. Instead, I expect Auburn to turn to juco transfer John Franklin III. He was originally recruited by Florida State and provides the mobility that makes Malzahn’s offense so tough top stop.
Franklin will have plenty of talent to work with at the skill positions. Jovaon Robinson returns at running back, plus they are high on sophomore Kerryon Johnson. At receiver they lose their top two, but are loaded with young talent. That includes two highly touted true freshmen in Kyle Davis and Eli Stove.
The offensive line also figures to be strong. The Tigers have three starters back, plus add in Texas transfer Darius James. The unit will greatly benefit from having a more mobile quarterback.
While the offense took a big step back, the defense was right on par with the previous two years under Malzahn. Though they were expecting for much better results under new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp.
It didn’t help matters that Auburn’s best player, Carl Lawson, missed 6 games. Muschamp left to be the new head coach at South Carolina. Kevin Steele replaces him and will be the 5th defensive coordinator in 6 years.
The good news is that Lawson is back for his junior season. If he can stay healthy, the defense should improve over last year’s numbers. He’s one of three starters back on the defensive line, which is absolutely loaded with talent. Keep an eye out for true freshman defensive end Marion Davidson, who is expected to start right away.
The hope is that all the talent up front can make up for what will be an inexperienced bunch at linebacker. Auburn loses all three starters from last year. Though they do add in Illinois transfer T.J. Neal, who had 207 tackles the previous two seasons.
The secondary loses last year’s defensive MVP in corner Blake Countess, but are in good shape. They get back sophomore corner Carlton Davis, as well as both starting safeties. Plus, they get back senior safety Joshua Holsey from injury. Holsey had started 19 games over his first three years before red-shirting in 2015.
Regular Season Win Total
SEC West Odds
SEC Championship Odds
National Championship Odds
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes
*Odds updated live on our college football odds page
I have the Tigers picked to finish 4th in the SEC West at 4-4 and 7-5 overall. With that said, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Auburn exceeded that mark.
The key to the season is Franklin and whether or not he can step in and play at a high level. If he does, Auburn is going to pull off some big upsets and it may start with Clemson in Week 1.
However, chances are the Tigers won’t prove to be a serious threat in the West given their schedule. While they get 8 home games, two are against two of the best teams in the country in LSU and Clemson. They also have 3 brutal road games against Georgia, Alabama and Ole Miss.
Win Total Prediction