Auburn Strength of Schedule: The SEC’s 6th toughest schedule

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SDS takes a trip around the SEC and ranks the schedule strength of all 14 SEC teams. We’ll work our way down to the toughest schedule in the SEC. Next up is Auburn.

Previous Schedule Rankings:

Auburn is coming off arguably the worst season in program history, and they have brought back the Gus Bus to redirect one of the biggest head-scratching programs in college football back into a winner. Just two years removed from its national championship, Auburn adopted “It’s A New Day” as their official slogan.

Auburn enters 2013 needing to improve the overall roster from top to bottom, and they have one of the tougher schedules in the SEC to contend with. In 2013, Auburn’s strength of schedule ranks No. 6 overall in the SEC.

2013 Auburn Tigers Schedule

  • Aug. 31st – Washington State
  • Sept. 7 – Arkansas State
  • Sept. 14 – Mississippi State
  • Sept. 21 – at LSU
  • Oct. 5 – Ole Miss
  • Oct. 12 – Western Carolina
  • Oct. 19 – at Texas A&M
  • Oct. 26 – FAU
  • Nov. 2 – at Arkansas
  • Nov. 9 – at Tennessee
  • Nov. 16 – Georgia
  • Nov. 30 – Alabama

By The Numbers

  • 8 Home Games
  • 4 Road Games
  • 2 Cupcakes
  • 4 Preseason top 25 projected opponents (LSU, Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama)

Strength of Schedule Rank

  • SEC West: 3rd
  • SEC: 6th

Notes

  • Cross-divisional opponents: Tennessee and Georgia
  • Opponents winning percentage in 2012: 86-66 (56.6%)
  • Bye weeks: Before Ole Miss and Alabama

Auburn has a middle-of-the-pack strength of schedule ranking, but it’s a tougher schedule than half of the other SEC teams.

Let’s start with the non-conference games. Washington State, Arkansas State, Western Carolina and FAU are all certainly winnable, but Washington State should improve under second-year head coach Mike Leach, and Arkansas State has won 10 games in back-to-back seasons under Hugh Freeze and Malzahn. Now, Gus gets to face his old team, which still has quite a bit of talent left over. And let’s face it: if Auburn doesn’t take step forward in 2013, Arkansas State will beat the Tigers.

ESPN’s Andre Ware even guaranteed Washington State would beat Auburn to open up the season. How’s that for a bold prediction?

The third week presents another tough game against Mississippi State before traveling to Baton Rouge to play LSU. MSU has become a big game over the last few years since Dan Mullen took over, and that certainly won’t change in 2013.

The Tigers’ four toughest games are split two on the road and two at home. Auburn travels to LSU and Texas A&M, while hosting Georgia and Alabama in back-to-back games to close out 2013, with a bye week sandwiched in between.

Auburn, Arkansas and Tennessee are all on an even playing field, and AU travels to both Fayetteville and Knoxville for those two matchups. Those two games alone will be telling as to whether or not the Tigers get to a bowl game.

The biggest key to the season will be getting off to a 3-0 start and beating MSU before traveling to LSU.

Auburn’s 2012 schedule was preseason ranked #3, and they finished with the toughest schedule based on the actual on-field results.

What does 2013 hold in store for 2012’s 3-9 Auburn Tigers?

Be on the lookout for the rest of this series as we break down every schedule in the SEC for the 2013 season.

Photo Credit: Josh D. Weiss-USA TODAY Sports

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