It’s never to early to look ahead, and by doing that, we can ignore something that may have happened earlier this week (Monday night, I think, but not sure). Auburn’s 2018 schedule has long since been released, but now that there’s no more football to be played in 2017, we can safely start to turn our gaze past spring practice, past the balmy Alabama summer, past two-a-days, and into the very beginning of September.
2018 AUBURN FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Game 1 - 9/1/18 - vs Washington - Mercedes-Benz Stadium - Atlanta, GA
For the third straight game, Auburn will head into the Falcon-red dome of hate in Atlanta. Hey, maybe this time we can get a win over there. It’ll be tough, though. Washington’s going to only lose a couple guys off of a Fiesta Bowl team, and they’ll have Jake Browning back under center for Chris Petersen. The ultimate playmaker Dante Pettis is gone, as are all the starting linebackers, but this is going to be an upperclassmen-heavy team. If Auburn takes some time to gel up front, it could be another long day for Jarrett Stidham at the Benz.
Game 2 - 9/8/18 - vs Alabama State - Jordan-Hare Stadium - Auburn, AL
However difficult the opener may be, this one will be decidedly less so. The Hornets will ride up about 50 miles and take Exit 51 to Jordan-Hare Stadium, where they’ll be greeted rudely for their first visit ever to the Plains. It’s a nice breather after the really hard opener.
Game 3 - 9/15/18 - vs LSU - Jordan-Hare Stadium - Auburn, AL
We’ve done so much better playing LSU early than we have playing them later in the season. Here’s another chance for us to continue beating them in Auburn. Danny Etling is back at quarterback, but he’ll be led by Steve Ensminger at offensive coordinator, and a couple of the bigger stars on both sides of the ball are gone as Derrius Guice and Arden key both declared for the NFL Draft as juniors. Auburn’s won three of the last four at home against LSU (the loss being 2012), and playing early should benefit the good Tigers.
Game 4 - 9/22/18 - vs Arkansas - Jordan-Hare Stadium - Auburn, AL
It’s yet another home game for Auburn as Arkansas comes to town. Since falling in four overtimes in Fayetteville in 2015, Auburn’s outscored the Hogs 108-23 over the past two meetings. Arkansas won’t lose much from this year’s team that resulted in the firing of Bret Bielema, but Austin Allen is gone, leaving the reins fully in Cole Kelley’s hands. He showed signs of life, but wasn’t near the dynamic guy that Arkansas needed in 2017. With Chad Morris installing a very Malzah-esque offense, we could end up seeing a rejuvenation for the Pigs. It probably won’t happen this early though, and Auburn should have a fairly easy time with Arkansas at home.
Game 5 - 9/29/18 - vs Southern Miss - Jordan-Hare Stadium - Auburn, AL
Southern Miss has won 24 games over the past three years, with the last two coming under current coach Jay Hopson. None of those wins came over any real competition, though, and that means this should end up being a fairly easy win for Auburn. The Golden Eagles lost to Kentucky, Tennessee, and Florida State this past season (none of whom were very good), and weren’t real spectacular in any singular area. After two conference games, this will be a nice game to keep the momentum rolling and to iron out any wrinkles before we resume SEC play.
Game 6 - 10/6/18 - @ Mississippi State - Davis-Wade Stadium - Starkville, MS
Here’s the first of Auburn’s four SEC road games, and it could be a battle of two of the best defensive lines in the league. MSU should bring back Jeffrey Simmons and his cohorts up front, while Auburn returns nearly everyone as well. The difference here is that the Tigers will still have Jarrett Stidham, while the Bulldogs will be breaking in a new quarterback — likely a freshman. Auburn’s won easily over the past two years against Mississippi State in both Auburn and Starkville, and without their best playmaker, this could continue that trend in 2018.
Game 7 - 10/13/18 - vs Tennessee - Jordan-Hare Stadium - Auburn, AL
Enter the Jeremy Pruitt era at Rocky Top. Pruitt’s very familiar with the team he’ll face in the middle of October, having coached against Auburn in his last three stops (FSU, Georgia, Alabama). Auburn got the better of the asparagus-hater while carving up his Tide defense on the Plains at the end of November. He’s going to have a ton of talent to work with at Tennessee, but he just has to figure out how to use it. Hopefully he won’t have that worked out seven weeks into the season yet. This could either be the first huge win for a new head coach, or a hard lesson in his first year leading a team in the SEC. Hope it’s the latter.
Game 8 - 10/20/18 - @ Ole Miss - Vaught-Hemingway Stadium - Oxford, MS
Matt Luke returns for his second year at the helm at Ole Miss, but it remains to be seen how much the Rebels stand to improve in 2018. Ole Miss finished this past season at 6-6, but bowl ineligibility kept them home for the holidays, and they didn’t really compete much against the better teams on their schedule. To make matters worse, Shea Patterson’s gone from the equation. Patterson transferred out to find greener pastures, and we’ll see how Jordan Ta’amu plays in his stead with diminished help all around thanks to some scholarship reductions.
Game 9 - 11/3/18 - vs Texas A&M - Jordan-Hare Stadium - Auburn, AL
Here we go, the chance for Auburn to break a home losing streak to the Aggies. Honestly, I don’t know if it’ll be easier or more difficult with the new head coach roaming the sidelines. Jimbo Fisher marches back into Jordan-Hare for the first time since he was on the staff at LSU in 2006. Things have changed since then, and I don’t know if he’ll have the pieces he needs to make this Texas A&M team click. Either way, it comes after a much-needed bye week for the Tigers, so they’ll be rested and ready and the return home should energize everyone. I just hope we’re not caught looking ahead to the next week’s game.
Game 10 - 11/10/18 - @ Georgia - Sanford Stadium - Athens, GA
This will be part one of the most difficult game on the schedule. Auburn has to play both national championship participants on the road in the span of three weekends, and it begins in Athens, GA. Home field advantage was a decided factor in Auburn’s favor this year, so we should find a rabid atmosphere with the barkers at full froth. They did get revenge over us in Atlanta, so maybe that’s tempered things a bit, and they will be losing a ton of guys from this year’s team. There’s talent in Athens, but much of it will be raw, including most of the defense. It’ll be a huge test for the Tigers to steal a road win at Georgia, but it can be done, although it might have to happen in a shoot-out.
Game 11 - 11/17/18 - vs Liberty - Jordan-Hare Stadium - Auburn, AL
This isn’t exactly the Alabama warm-up game that I’d like to see us put on the schedule. One, Liberty’s pretty good, winning several Big South championships over the past decade, and now they’re making the two-year transition to FBS. They’ll be an independent, ineligible for postseason in 2018, but they’ve got the money and resources to turn into a nice get for a big conference if they make a decision like that. Furthermore, they’re coached by Turner Gill, as in “Auburn’s racist if they don’t hire Turner Gill”. We’re going to see several stories coming out the week leading up to that game dredging up those old headlines, and it’s something that I’d rather not have to deal with. Again, they’re pretty good, and I don’t want to see us having to deal with a good team between Georgia and Alabama.
Game 12 - 11/24/18 - @ Alabama - Bryant-Denny Stadium - Tuscaloosa, AL
And here’s part two of the season’s toughest game. I don’t think it’s up for debate that Alabama’s offense will be very good under Tua, and he’ll be frustratingly exciting at the quarterback position. They’ll lose the only other player that scared me this year in Calvin Ridley, and so until another true stud at receiver emerges, they may not be as scintillating on the attack as some people may think. Don’t forget that Ridley was literally their offense in several games this year in the same vein of Julio or Amari Cooper. They’ll also lose a couple of the linchpins on defense with Fitzpatrick and Evans leaving, as well as a couple of guys that will declare as juniors. It’s still going to be rough, and Auburn will have to play its best game of the year to get out with a win, but that’s how it goes in these pesky even years.
All in all, it’s not a terrible schedule, but for yet another season we play both participants in the previous season’s national championship game. With the addition of Washington to the schedule, it’s going to shape up to be one of the toughest in the country yet again.