This past weekend finally made it real. College football is actually back.
Yes, there have been and will continue to be some major hiccups this season but there WILL be a season and fans will get a chance to watch their beloved Auburn Tigers take the field this fall. For a year that has been most unpleasant having the ability to shut out the world for 3-4 hours and let our blood pressure rise to unhealthy levels as we watch Auburn do battle on the gridiron is a most wondrous blessing.
So with kickoff being just under two weeks away, it’s time the sages here at College & Magnolia put down in writing their expectations for this 2020 Auburn football team. This year, more than any other, feels the most unpredictable. Games that seem like obvious wins right now could turn into multi score losses if a positive tests pops up on the wrong position group. Chances are good at least one game will be disrupted, positively or negatively, for Auburn this season due to COVID-19.
But your wise contributors on this here internet street will do our best to enlighten you, our loyal readers, on proper expectations for this fall. Season prediction takes, let’s have em!
8-2 would be a good season for Auburn this fall. 6-4 would be a bad one. I have no idea how I would feel about 7-3 so obviously that’s exactly what will happen. I’m not sure who exactly Auburn loses to outside of Bama this season but my general guess is Auburn goes 2-2 vs Bama/UGA/LSU/A&M then drops a frustrating one to either UK or Tennessee. It wouldn’t shock me to see Auburn start 7-0 then lose their last 3 plus the bowl game to send us into another off-season of debate over whether or not Gus Malzahn should keep his job.
But also ya’ll... This year feels as chaotic as every so why not some Chaos Auburn?
The folks in Vegas (typically not dumb!) place the over/under on 6.5 wins for Auburn this year. 6.5...that seems very precarious. I have no idea if Auburn will struggle to pass protect, put Bo in lots of bad situations, and force him to make bad throws. I have no idea if Chad Morris can overcome any 2020-related obstacles and produce another juggernaut offense. But when you’re making preseason predictions, swing for the fences. Echoing Nerd: expect CHAOS AUBURN. Auburn will ruin ALL YOUR NICE THINGS (um, including a perfect season for Auburn, who will definitely lose an early game they are actually favored to win (please not to lane kiffin, please not to lane kiffin, please not to la-))
As we saw in the first week of power conference games, we may be in for some ugly football this year. I think (hope?) that lends itself to teams with established quarterback play, although replacing seven starters across the two lines of scrimmage might cause more than enough issues. Still, despite the inherent difficulty of an all-SEC schedule, things line up relatively nicely for Auburn. UGA seems to be in crisis mode with a new OC, chaos at quarterback, injuries at WR, and new starters on the OL. LSU is replacing effectively their entire starting lineup. Texas A&M is suffering a slew of withdraws, most recently leading to their top returning wideout having three (3!) catches last season.
It’s going to be a frustrating season, I think, but it’s important to remember everything these players and coaches have done to even get to this point. I think we knock off Georgia in Athens for the first time since 2005, AND we knock off the defending champion LSU. I also think Alabama has no excuse to lose a single game this year, and it would not surprise me if random COVID cases or contact tracing bites us in some other game.
I see Auburn splitting the first 2 games, then see the Tigers getting on a roll. The Tennessee game is a must win for Gus this year but I can see Auburn getting to the Iron Bowl at 6-2.
Only one thing is clear about the upcoming season: it’s gonna be a weird one. The fact that you are reading this article in mid-September talking about an upcoming season is only one of many indicators that it’s already weird. And so that makes predicting what will happen even harder than usual. As Auburn fans, we have learned to embrace weirdness over the years. Doesn’t it just feel like this is the kind of year Auburn can do something special? A year that only the ultimate victors won’t assign a huge asterisk to each and every opponent win? People could get sick or opt out at any point, throwing an otherwise good team into chaos.
All that said, let’s see where Auburn ends up. I think Bo Nix is going to have a whole new lease on life this year. He’s going to have an opportunity to throw a lot of high percentage passes to his TEs, and the running back situation is miles ahead of where it was last year. The only question for me is the OL, but I don’t see it being worse than the last few years. I have complete faith in our defensive staff to get the best out of the players on that side of the ball. Auburn is going to go 9-1. The loss will come to Kentucky, LSU, or Alabama. I know what you are thinking, “Kentucky?!” It’s gonna be a weird year folks, so hold onto your butts. LSU seems the least likely to me out of the three. Alabama will obviously be good. They managed to somehow avoid any opt outs. 9-1 will only be good enough to get us to the title game if the loss is to UK or LSU, so hope for one of those. Let’s assume that’s the case and say we will face Florida in the SECCG, winning 42-27. After that we’ll eventually face Clemson in the national title game.
Am I Barning hard enough for you people? Anyway, War Damn Eagle.
I am far more skeptical on this season than most here. Pre-COVID my skepticism was rooted in a simple truth that has held up for the most part in the history of this conference: It’s hard to be confident when you don’t know what you have at the line of scrimmage.
I expect the offense to show signs of legitimate progress under Chad Morris, and provide further compliment to Bo Nix’s potential, especially with more passing concepts, A TIGHT END (!), and a far more talented running back room than we’ve had the last 2 years. I also expect our offensive line to struggle mightily at different points throughout this season. It’s not for a lack of talent, but it hurts us early that we didn’t have spring to help those 5 to gel. It hurts even more than it’s hard to find 5 guys consistently with COVID, so early on communication between the guys is going to be rough.
Defensively I expect Kevin Steele and Co. to continue reinforcing the sterling reputation the Auburn Defense has earned since 2016. Questions abound for me up front though, once again, as you are going to feel the impact of losing not just the insane talent of Derrick and Marlon, but the amount of sheer snaps they had. That experience is a heavy burden for Truesdell, but what is around him are a bunch of guys who need to step up and/or grow up quick. Same holds true in the secondary, where Auburn is quietly producing 1st round NFL talent nowadays. I have zero doubt about the abilities of our back 4-5, but quality depth matters, especially at corner, and I’ll need to see it before getting my hopes elevated.
I’m going to do a breakdown of how I see this schedule going with what I think will happen, and the best case/worst case scenario:
Kentucky - Win (Do not take this team lightly, as they can come into Auburn and win. They’re extremely well coached.)
at Georgia - Loss (We can absolutely win this game as I don’t feel threatened by the quandary Georgia finds themselves in at QB (you just hate to see it), but they have arguably the best defense in the country depending on if Ohio State plays football this fall, and I think we’re going to need 21+ points to win. I don’t have a lot of confidence that happens in Athens.)
Arkansas - Win (LOL yeah no...Gus and Chad ain’t losing to Arkansas)
at South Carolina - Win (Abysmal offensive football team with a lack of talent to beat Auburn)
at Ole Miss - Win (Lane will beat someone he shouldn’t in year one, but they’ve got enough problems defensively that tell me it won’t be us.)
LSU - Win (Coin flip game prior to LSU basically deciding to take the year off. I don’t blame them. 2011 sucked for us too. Still though, they’re LSU and an obvious threat, but this is a game we should win, especially since Dave Aranda, who had our number, is gone.)
@ Miss. State - Win (Some other SBN site will tell you State is the most talented team in the conference. That site is laughably wrong.)
Tennessee - Win (Must win game for us that absolutely could go the other way. Sucks to say but Jeremy Pruitt has had our number way too often. Easily the most dangerous game on this schedule that I almost went with my gut and predicted a “Chaos Auburn” loss.)
Alabama - Loss (They’re loaded. Their schedule gets easier with every opt-out we see. Nobody outside of Clemson is beating them this year.)
Texas A&M - Win (Much like Tennessee, this is a true coin flip game for us. Beat up after the Iron Bowl means something here, as it did in the 2017 SEC Championship. Still, the day I put money on Kellen Mond or Jimbo Fisher being worth a damn without insane talent all around them is the day I go broke. We should win this game. We could lose this game.)
So I say we’re 8-2, with Kentucky, Tennessee, and A&M being games that could absolutely derail all of our hopes and dreams for something better. I do see the 2 losses I mentioned being definite. This team is going to show improvement at best, and confusion at worst. We’re a year away, basically. But I also expect 2021 to be the year where we actually enter the College Football Playoff, so I’ll take it in a year where there are more important things going on than football, especially knowing that the Georgia game and Alabama games are on the road in front of mostly nobody. To hell with both of them.
You’ve read our takes, now it’s your turn. Give us your prediction for this 2020 Auburn Tiger football team.
Predict Auburn’s 2020 season record
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