Auburn football preview 2013: Projecting the November schedule

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

When the weather turns cool, the competition heats up. (Sorry, that was awful.)

The first two months of Auburn's 2013 season features a pretty manageable schedule. Trips to LSU and Ole Miss could be rough, and home games against Washington State, Mississippi State and Ole Miss will provide a challenge, but overall, it isn't a bad eight-game stretch. That all changes in November with four straight SEC games, two away from home.

Auburn's season is almost always defined in November. This year will be no different.

Nov. 2: at Arkansas

For anyone who has never considered Arkansas to be one of the Tigers' chief rivals and held lesser interest in the annual game -- so, most Auburn fans -- this matchup took on much more meaning with the proceedings at SEC Media Days. New Razorbacks head coach Bret Bielema is firmly on board the anti-hurry-up bandwagon, favoring "normal American football," and he took issue with Gus Malzahn's scoffing at the player-safety argument. Now, there's added incentive on both sides to win, especially in Year 1 of both coaches' tenures at their respective schools.

Many Auburn fans are writing this off as a win, but to discredit Bielema's Hogs would be foolish. No matter the coaches or offensive schemes, Arkansas has always been a thorn in the side of the Tigers, and playing on the road won't make it any easier. The Razorbacks only have four starters coming back from last year's offense, and they're shifting from the pass-happy offense under Bobby Petrino to a run-oriented attack under Bielema. Still, the team has reportedly taken to the new scheme rather well and should be comfortable by the time November rolls around.

Arkansas 2012 Stats
YPG Pass YPG Rush YPG PPG YPG allow Pass YPG allow Rush YPG allow PPG allow
420.2 301.5 118.7 23.5 409.9 285.8 124.1 30.4

Nov. 9: at Tennessee

Another game against a new head coach, and another game some fans are overlooking. Tennessee's offense was on of the SEC's best in 2012, but the other side of the ball was putrid. This year's defense should be better with eight returning starters and a new regime in town, but the offense loses six starters, including quarterback Tyler Bray and the top receivers -- Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson, Mychal Rivera, Zach Rogers -- from a year ago. Butch Jones will more than likely have the Vols better prepared week in and week out than they were under Derek Dooley, and they'll be a tough out in Neyland Stadium.

While Tennessee has the home-field advantage, the Volunteers' schedule preceding the game could leave them in rough shape. Following the Oct. 12 open date. UT hosts South Carolina, then travels to Alabama and Missouri. It wouldn't be a major shock if they went into Homecoming against the Tigers a little dinged up. Auburn will either be coming off a nice road win or a really disappointing loss, and momentum could play a big factor in this matchup.

Tennessee 2012 Stats
YPG Pass YPG Rush YPG PPG YPG allow Pass YPG allow Rush YPG allow PPG allow
475.9 315.6 160.3 36.2 471.3 282.5 188.8 35.7

Nov. 16: vs. Georgia

For the second year in a row, the Dawgs come to the Plains. Hopefully, this result will be a little better than the 36-0 thrashing in the last meeting. Only the most optimistic Auburn fan would pick a win against Georgia right now, but if Malzahn's team is going to pull a major upset in 2013, this could be its best chance. Yes, the Bulldogs' offense will be one of the best in the in the conference, if not nation, but the defense, with only three returning starters, is a huge question mark. If Auburn's offense is as good as we're hoping, we could see a shootout at Jordan-Hare.

If Auburn's going to win this game, the Tigers' secondary will have to be vastly improved over recent years. Even in 2010, when the run defense was dominant, the defensive backs couldn't stop much at all. With Aaron Murray, who was voted first-team All-SEC by the league's coaches, running the Georgia offense, there's the potential for Auburn's corners and safeties to be carved up all afternoon. If they can't muster any resistance, it will be almost impossible to stop the Dawgs' offense.

Georgia 2012 Stats
YPG Pass YPG Rush YPG PPG YPG allow Pass YPG allow Rush YPG allow PPG allow
467.6 285.1 182.6 37.8 357.8 175.6 182.1 19.6

Nov. 30: vs. Alabama

One day, young President Bill Pullman Malzahn will overcome the evil horde led by a slimy, tentacled Nick Saban, but this year will more closely resemble the failed nuclear attack on the satellite ship, and not the computer virus installed in the mother vessel. Auburn will be close, and we may think the Tigers have won, but the Crimson Tide will prevail. But the future of the rivalry is not bleak for those in orange and blue.

Alabama 2012 Stats
YPG Pass YPG Rush YPG PPG YPG allow Pass YPG allow Rush YPG allow PPG allow
445.5 218.0 227.5 38.7 250.0 173.6 76.4 10.9

Projected win: Arkansas

Projected losses: Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama

After a 6-2 start to the year, Auburn goes 1-3 in November to finish 7-5. Yeah, yeah, you may argue the Tigers will be better than both the Razorbacks and Vols, but with this team in a transition/rebuilding year, a split of those two games on the road feels more likely than a sweep. And while losses to the primary rivals on the schedule are likely, the games should be much closer than we've seen in 2011 and '12.

How do you think Auburn will look in Amen Corner? Vote in our poll and tell us in the comments below.

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