Auburn football: Predicting the rest of the Tigers' schedule
Auburn’s bye week came at seemingly the right exact time, as the Tigers suffered their first defeat to Florida in Gainesville, quarterback Bo Nix struggled and the defense, as good as it was, wore down late in the 4th quarter.
The week gave Gus Malzahn and his team a chance to reset and refocus as a gauntlet awaits. At 5-1, everything is still on the table for the Tigers, yet they must navigate a brutal road if they want this season to be magical.
Six games stand between the Tigers and a chance at a SEC and national title, but how will the Tigers do? Let’s predict the rest of Auburn’s season.
at Arkansas: Oct. 19
In my bold predictions before the season, I said that this game could be one that trips up Auburn as the Tigers sometimes have trouble winning in Fayetteville even against less-talented Arkansas teams. After watching Chad Morris’ team this season, and although they have shown some improvement over the past few weeks, I have changed my mind.
With fresh legs, Auburn should be able to dominate both sides of the line, especially important on offense to get some reps for Kam Martin and company as they try to replace the production missing with Boobie Whitlow’s injury. The defense will be able to stop a Razorbacks offense that is still looking for its footing and the Tigers will run away in this one.
Score: Auburn 48, Arkansas 17
At LSU: Oct. 26
Tiger Stadium has been a nightmare for Auburn since 1999.
LSU has a Heisman candidate in Joe Burrow, explosive skill players and a defense that is as talented as Auburn’s, so expect those nightmares to continue. Auburn will keep it close, but it would take an amazing game from every player, especially Nix, to come out of Baton Rouge with a victory. If Nix improves over his performance in The Swamp, it might happen, but I don’t see it occurring.
Score: LSU 34, Auburn 20
Ole Miss: Nov. 2
The Rebels might have found a quarterback in true freshman and dual-threat John Rhys Plumlee, who fits into coordinator’s Rich Rodriguez’s system well, but Ole Miss is still lacking a lot of skill on both sides of the ball. Much of that is due to the NCAA sanctions that hit the program, but some might be a bigger problem: Matt Luke. How long will he actually last in Oxford?
As for this game, the Tigers are too big, too fast and too talented for Ole Miss and should be able to put this game away early like they did against Mississippi State. The only thing that could turn this into a loss is a hangover from the LSU game. I don’t see that happening.
Score: Auburn 51, Ole Miss 17
Georgia: Nov. 16
The last time the Bulldogs came to Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn had 2 losses to ranked teams, including LSU, Jake Fromm was the starting quarterback for Kirby Smart and Georgia was looking to make a statement. Sound familiar?
This year is playing much like 2017 and, in my opinion, Georgia and Auburn are about as even as could be on paper. Fromm had his worst game against South Carolina, but that was an outlier. He is still dangerous. D’Andre Swift is talented, but not enough to challenge this Tigers’ defense. Nix will, by all means, no longer be a freshman at quarterback with 9 games under his belt, and the running game, even without Whitlow, should be able to do enough against a tough Georgia defense to put some points on the board. The difference will be the home-field advantage.
Score: Auburn 28, Georgia 24
Samford: Nov. 23
Auburn better enjoy having a cupcake game the week before the Iron Bowl this year because that all changes next season thanks to a SEC scheduling change. After a tough and hard-hitting game against Georgia, the Bulldogs from Birmingham are exactly what the doctor ordered with the Crimson Tide up next. This should be over by halftime, therefore Malzahn and the coaches will be able to turn their minds toward their rivals.
Score: Auburn 58, Samford 10
Alabama: Nov. 30
It will be power vs. power as Tua Tagovailoa and a ridiculous group of 4 wide receivers led by Jerry Jeudy face the Tigers’ front 4 and veteran secondary in, as always, an important Iron Bowl. If Auburn can somewhat contain the Tide’s talented offense, Malzahn and his offense should be able to take advantage of a Bama defense that has been prone to giving up points this season.
If, as predicted, the Tigers are 9-2 coming into this game, a spot in the College Football Playoff even without appearing in the SEC Championship Game would be possible for Auburn.
The major difference in this game is that Nick Saban’s squad has Tagovailoa and Auburn doesn’t. Tide in a close one.
Score: Alabama 27, Auburn 23