Yesterday, we looked through the first six games on this year’s football schedule, complete with road trips to ranked opponents, and a big opening game against Oregon. Now, take a peek at the latter half of the schedule, where Auburn gets to play three top ten teams, with the entire November slate coming at home.
Here we go.
OCTOBER 19th - AUBURN @ ARKANSAS - FAYETTEVILLE, AR
Here’s to hoping that Chad Morris doesn’t pick things up too much in his second year with the Hogs. After a week off, Auburn could use another breather before heading down to Baton Rouge to finish off October. Arkansas was, to put it plainly, dreadful in 2018. They went just 2-10, and couldn’t seem to find any sort of momentum heading into the offseason as they got blasted by a combined score of 90-6 in their final two games.
There’s not much talent to work with, either. The quarterback situation is up for grabs, and Auburn may end up actually snagging the leading receiver La’Michael Pettway in the grad transfer market. A tepid Tiger attack was still able to pound this team 34-3 early on last year, and I would expect that it’s little different in 2019, even on the road.
OCTOBER 26th - AUBURN @ LSU - BATON ROUGE, LA
Oh boy. All we’re going to hear leading up to this game is how Auburn blew a 20-0 lead in 2017 and ruined the chance to win at Tiger Stadium for the first time this millennium. This season’s edition of the weirdest rivalry in college football will mark the twentieth anniversary of the Cigar Game, the last time that Auburn beat LSU in Death Valley.
Sadly, the Bayou Bengals should be... good. Joe Burrow returns with an annoying cockiness at the quarterback spot, and the defense is going to feature guys like Grant Delpit, Kristian Fulton, and Michael Divinity, all of whom should be coveted prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft. If Auburn is still in the national hunt at this juncture, it’ll mean that whoever starts at quarterback has figured things out, but this game will be the toughest one until Amen Corner. Break the voodoo spell of Death Valley, and whoever’s under center could wind up a legend. If not, we just get to hear about the curse for another two years while we wonder how Ed Orgeron keeps beating us.
NOVEMBER 2nd - AUBURN vs OLE MISS - AUBURN, AL
Well, would you look at that! Auburn returns to the Plains for the entire month of November after being away all of October. Furthermore, it should start off on a positive note with the Rebels visiting to being the month.
Ole Miss likely won’t have the same power as they did last year after losing their large receiving corps to the NFL. Matt Luke returns (apparently not only as a placeholder for the next head coach), and while he hasn’t been able to foster success in Oxford, the guys love playing for him. If you’re Auburn, you have to get this one and escape with a little rest since the really big games begin the following weekend.
NOVEMBER 16th - AUBURN vs GEORGIA - AUBURN, AL
We’ve seen it before. If Auburn is good, and Jordan-Hare Stadium is rocking, then it’s the toughest place to play in America. Georgia found that out in 2017 when they got shellacked 40-17 and were thrown from the top spot in the Playoff rankings. It’ll take an even more special effort for Auburn to duplicate that effort this year.
Jake Fromm has already started turning heads, and he’s going to do that more this season. Already projected as a first round pick, he’s got a full command of an offense that’ll also feature a heavy dose of D’Andre Swift on the ground. The only real drawback for the Bulldogs right now on that side of the ball is the departure of Mecole Hardman, Riley Ridley, Isaac Nauta, and Terry Godwin from the receiving corps. We know that Kirby’s bringing in talent left and right, but without those guys, Fromm will depend a little more on the run game. With Swift and the ultra-talented group of rising sophomores in James Cook and Zamir White running behind a big offensive line, this’ll be more of a ground-oriented offense in 2019.
On defense, there’s talent, but experience will be lacking at linebacker and corner. With Auburn’s front seven, this could be another matchup that has the Tigers feeling confident, especially if Georgia’s more predicated on the run this year. Either way, it’s the second-toughest game of the season.
NOVEMBER 23rd - AUBURN vs SAMFORD - AUBURN, AL
Get whoever’s starting out once the middle of the second quarter comes and the Tigers lead 28-0. There’s no need for anything more than that as Auburn will play vanilla and completely plan for Alabama during the week of practice.
NOVEMBER 30th - AUBURN vs ALABAMA - AUBURN, AL
While this past year’s Tide team was hailed as the greatest ever before the huge dud in the national championship game, the 2019 edition may be the more-talented bunch and will play with more experience. I don’t want to frighten you, but a headier Tua (not going for the home run every single play) and that group of receivers is flat out scary. While defense and the run game set up Nick Saban’s early success in Tuscaloosa, it’s been the wide receivers that he’s attracted to Alabama that have made them elite.
Julio Jones, Amari Cooper, Calvin Ridley. It used to be that there was just one, but now they’ve got multiples. Alongside Jerry Jeudy (last year’s Biletnikoff winner), Henry Ruggs, Devonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle are the reason that the offense hums. Coupled with Tua’s arm talent, it makes the offense nearly-unstoppable (unless you’re Clemson).
There is a caveat, however, and that’s the health of Tua’s lower body. He took some punishment later in the year, and that’s why Alabama nearly lost the SEC Championship to Georgia before Jalen Hurts saved the day. Now, Hurts will lead Oklahoma’s offense, and if Tua goes down again, then Nick Saban gets to turn to...
...that guy. Or baby Tua. Either way, he won’t have the quarterback depth he did last year, and it’s a position of need if the past is any indication. Furthermore, we really don’t have any idea what Alabama’s going to look like after losing quite literally the entire coaching staff. Steve Sarkisian returns to run the offense, but there’s a reason he left in the first place aside from the off-field issues. People were never quite satisfied with his usage of the talent in Tuscaloosa.
Also, don’t be buoyed by the departure of guys like Josh Jacobs, Quinnen Williams, Isaiah Buggs, Irv Smith, Rashaan Evans, JK Scott, Bo Scarbrough, and Da’Shawn Hand. Alabama will have plenty of dudes to slide up in their place.
The biggest piece here is that Gus knows how to coach against this team, and he’s always put together a pretty good game plan against the Tide. At home, and if Auburn’s humming on offense, this could be an interesting finale. Hopefully there’s still a shot at the SEC West on the line come Bo Jackson’s 56th birthday.
Overall, the schedule is brutal. Again. That’s what Auburn gets, I suppose, for daring to be Auburn. Somehow, though, we’ll find a way to either make a magical run, or have ourselves some sort of controversy sprinkled throughout the entire season. Auburn athletics. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em.