The Auburn Tigers may have been the best team not to be selected for the College Football Playoff last season. The Tigers lost to Clemson and LSU during the regular season, but an Iron Bowl victory over Alabama got them to the SEC Championship Game and on the verge of a spot in the CFP. Alas, they lost to Georgia and then lost to Central Florida in the Peach Bowl. However, the Tigers were far better than their 10-4 record would indicate.
Gus Malzahn’s Tigers will once again fancy themselves as national championship contenders in 2018. Winning the SEC is another one of Auburn’s goals after coming up short last season, but that may be just a stepping stone on their way to something bigger.
Oddsmakers list Auburn at +3000 to win the national championship, giving them the 10th best odds in the country. Those odds are actually right in the sweet spot. The Tigers have the talent to win it all and there would be a nice payout if they do. At the same time, the Tigers are only projected to win nine games. That number is likely due to the difficulty of the SEC West, but one that Auburn is capable of topping.
One thing working in Auburn’s favor is they know who their quarterback will be in 2018. Jarrett Stidham had the highest completion percentage and the second-most passing yards in the SEC last year. He figures to be one of the best quarterbacks in both the SEC and nationally this year. More importantly, he should have Malzahn’s trust in running the offense, meaning he’s ready to have another big year.
If there’s a concern for the Auburn offense, it could be the offensive line. The Tigers lost four starters from last year, so there is still a little uncertainty at a couple of spots heading into training camp. There is also a huge hole to fill in the backfield left by Kerryon Johnson, who ran for over 1,300 yards in 2017. However, most of Auburn’s other top playmakers from a year ago return for the 2018 campaign.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Tigers have a chance to be special. It’s hard to find a team with a more talented defensive line or a deeper set of linebackers than Auburn. The Tigers also have a pair of solid cornerbacks in Javaris Davis and Jamel Dean in an otherwise inexperienced secondary. But with such a powerful front-7, the Tigers shouldn’t have to worry too much about their secondary.
On paper, Auburn is a team that’s capable of winning the SEC and earning a spot in the College Football Playoff. As always, there will be stiff competition inside the SEC, so nothing is guaranteed. However, it’s safe to count the Tigers among the teams with the pieces to win a title in 2018.
|Sep 1||Washington Huskies||3:30 PM|
|Sep 8||Alabama State Hornets||7:30 PM|
|Sep 15||Louisiana State Tigers||4:30 PM|
|Sep 22||Arkansas Razorbacks||1:00 PM|
|Sep 29||Southern Miss Golden Eagles||1:00 PM|
|Oct 6||@ Mississippi State Bulldogs||1:00 PM|
|Oct 13||Tennessee Volunteers||1:00 PM|
|Oct 20||@ Mississippi Rebels||1:00 PM|
|Nov 3||Texas A&M Aggies||1:00 PM|
|Nov 10||@ Georgia Bulldogs||12:00 PM|
|Nov 17||Liberty Flames||1:00 PM|
|Nov 24||@ Alabama Crimson Tide||1:00 PM|
If there’s one thing that could hold back Auburn this season, it’s their schedule. It starts with a neutral site game against Washington, another team with the talent to reach the CFP. A win in that game could give the Tigers some early-season momentum, although a loss would have them playing catch up all season.
The SEC portion of Auburn’s schedule is also as tough as it gets. The Tigers have to play Mississippi State, Georgia, and Alabama on the road, with Georgia and Alabama both coming in the last three weeks of the season. That schedule will make it difficult to win the SEC West. However, it also means the Tigers will have plenty of opportunities to add quality wins to their resume. That tough schedule could end up working in Auburn’s favor. If they can end the year with one or two losses, the Tigers could be in the CFP conversation at the end of November.