When Auburn players report this week, they will face expectations not seen in these parts since Kodi Burns was the next great Auburn hope. Widely forecasted to finish third in the SEC West by most preseason publications, in recent days Auburn has become the hot sleeper pick in the SEC.
It started last week when ESPN's Colin Cowherd said on his national radio show that Gene Chizik's group was the most undervalued team on the Las Vegas boards this season.
The Vegas line says Auburn will win eight games this year. That's not nearly enough according to Cowherd. "I think Vegas has made an unbelievable gaffe on Auburn," Cowherd said. "Vegas believes Auburn is going to win eight games. Go to a casino and bet it before they change the line. Nick Saban has made Auburn virtually invisible, but Auburn could go 11-0 before they play Alabama."
Renowned college football writer Phil Steele was the first to float the idea of an undefeated matchup in the Iron Bowl. It's now gaining traction in a lot of places. Count me among those who are skeptical of such a possibility.
Considering the public has seen new quarterback Cam Newton take a total of eight snaps since arriving on campus, it's hard to understand how anyone can predict Auburn's success this year with any accuracy. Don't get me wrong, this team on paper should be vastly improved over last season. But expectations of more than nine wins are probably more wishful thinking than anything based in reality.
Let's keep the expectations lower. It's better to overachieve.