Last year, Auburn initially scheduled a series to play Cal in 2019 and 2020. That series was bumped back to 2020 and 2021 to accommodate a Cal-Ole Miss series. Doing so messed with what looked to be a nice plan to have a neutral site and home-and-home series every three years to fit in with the "Must schedule a P5 team every year" philosophy of the SEC, currently.
Today, Auburn announced that it was moving the Cal series again. This time to 2023 and 2024 in order to accommodate a series against Penn State in 2021 and 2021 that was just announced this morning. That leaves Auburn now needed P5 opponents in 2018 and 2020.
Who Is Out There?
So, who is left to schedule? Last year I examined the options for the Tigers using fbschedules.com. With the situation changed, I decided to do so again.
A little caveat. I did not dig so far into the details to check every single date for games already scheduled against Auburn's 2018 and 2020 schedules. I just didn't have the time and patience. This also doesn't account for the fact that some teams do schedule more than one P5 opponent in a season.
What I did was look through the future out-of-conference schedules for every P5 team and compiled who might be available for a one-off game in 2018 or 2020 and who may be available for a home-and-home series. Some of these teams already have standing P5 OOC games (Florida State, Georgia Tech, Iowa).
Is one of the teams listed in this table the likely opponent(s) in 2018 and 2020? I'd be willing to bet it's one of them. However, I wouldn't rule out another team who wants to schedule multiple P5 teams. Some of the lower-level P5 teams may want to do it as a "money" game.
|Syracuse||Florida State*||Georgia Tech**|
|Texas Tech||Duke||Iowa State***|
*Playing at Boise; unlikely
**Annual series against UGA, already
****Scheduled against BYU; early slate mostly filled
*****Likely a 1-off, but home-and-home could be neat
******Why wasn't this a home-and-home!?!?!?!?!?
Thoughts on the One-Off Teams
You can remove Oregon from the list since we're playing them in 2019. I still don't know why that game wasn't set up as a 2018 & 2019 home-and-home. It kills me that it's not. That would have been fantastic.
If we're going to do the one-off thing, I kind of like the idea of playing Oklahoma State in 2018 and Oklahoma in 2020. Let's hit both teams of Bedlam. Of course, Notre Dame in 2018 would be my preference. They're a tricky schedule, though. They have to play five ACC teams per their agreement with the conference, and they do already have Stanford scheduled for that season. The Fighting Irish boast of their scheduling, though, so maybe they'd be up for it.
For 2018, I have to say my choices would be 1) Notre Dame, 2) Oklahoma State, 3) Washington or Arizona.
As for 2020, there's a whole host of teams, and only Oklahoma, Nebraska, or USC really excite me. Arizona State could be neat, but they have the little caveat of playing BYU that season. BYU, as an independent, technically fits into the scheduling possibilities, as well, since the SEC has recognized them as a stand-in for a "P5 opponent." I doubt that'll happen, though.
Whew, boy, this list is filled with caveats. I'm a sucker for old rivalries and would love Georgia Tech, though I know many people don't. The Pac 12 schools are intriguing, but both Stanford and Utah have big-name opponents on the schedule already, those years. For Stanford, it's Notre Dame. Utah is playing BYU, so perhaps they'd be interested.
I honestly kind of like the thought of Minnesota for some reason. Washington State is intriguing, but we've played them twice recently, and both times in Jordan-Hare. I doubt Auburn wants to travel to Pullman, but maybe we could play them in Seattle?
So Who Will It Be?
So, here's the thing, the city of Auburn and the Auburn ticket office is not going to want to miss out on an 8th home game for six straight seasons. That's what it would be if the Tigers played a one-off game at a neutral site in 2018 and 2020. The Tigers play at Clemson in 2017, a neutral site game against Oregon in 2019, and then on the road at Penn State in 2021. That means 2017-2021 would be filled with only seven home games on the Plains.
I think Auburn is doing everything it can to make 2018 and 2020 into home games rather than neutral sites. That fits into the philosophy of the P5 opponent being at home on even years. I do believe that may be part of the stick-up in getting a 2018 opponent, too.
Why did Auburn move the series against Cal to put the Penn State series in? My personal guess is that there's something else in the works and Auburn needed 2020 to be open in order to make whatever they're aiming for 2018 and 2020 to happen. Hopefully, we'll find out the answer to that before too long.