Auburn schedule analysis
Out of all the teams in the SEC, Auburn is currently sitting pretty. Back in June, the Associated Press placed Auburn right at the top by predicting the Tigers would make a national championship appearance against Ohio State.
At the end of SEC Media Days, the media projected favorable results for Auburn as well. Auburn received the most votes for becoming SEC champion, even though the media voted Alabama to win the West Division.
What does Auburn’s schedule in particular say about its chances of finishing with a stellar season?
Analyzing Auburn’s 2015 schedule, here’s a closer look:
Truthfully, most of the matchups on Auburn’s schedule look favorable. As of August, Auburn statistically is a better team than most. But Auburn would be making a fatal mistake if it underestimated any SEC team (other than Kentucky) on its schedule. LSU is hot on Auburn and Alabama’s heels in all preseason predictions, Arkansas will be a force to be reckoned with, and both programs from Mississippi are motivated to finish what they started last season.
- vs. Louisville, Sept. 5
- vs. Jacksonville State, Sept. 12
- vs. San Jose State, Oct. 3
- at Kentucky, Oct. 15
- vs. Idaho, Nov. 21
Reputations are at stake in Auburn’s biggest games of the season. Georgia is widely predicted to win the SEC East, and Auburn represents the best of the SEC West. In an offseason swirling with questions about whether the West is declining and whether the East is rising, the result of that game could provide resounding answers about where the divisions stand. And of course we understand the importance of the Iron Bowl. Pride of Alabama, pride of the conference, that sort of thing. We’ll go into more detail below.
- vs. Georgia, Nov. 14
- vs. Alabama, Nov. 28
Auburn’s schedule spaces out tough and easy opponents nicely. The biggest stretch of non-stop conference play happens during the second half of the season after the bye week. After a skirmish against Kentucky, Auburn will be alternating between home and away when it faces three intra-division teams. The Tigers then finish off with the big game against Georgia.
- at Arkansas, Oct. 24
- vs. Ole Miss, Oct. 31
- at Texas A&M, Nov. 7
- vs. Georgia, Nov. 14
There’s no doubt about it. Alabama will be Auburn’s toughest game. Quality SEC teams populate Auburn’s schedule, but none of them are as strong as Alabama. None of them pose a bigger threat to Auburn’s SEC West title claim. Assuming Auburn and Alabama handle their seasons equally well, the winner of the Iron Bowl should be the determining factor. Plus, having a victory over the Crimson Tide on your resume never hurts when coming before the College Football Playoff selection committee.
- Oct. 24 – Nov. 14
We keep circling back to these four games, but it’s because all four are must-wins for Auburn to sustain any chances of winning the division, winning the conference, and going to the national championship. Other than tussles with LSU and Mississippi State, we can assume that Auburn will have won all their games up until this point. That means this set of games will be Auburn’s final hurdle until they face the ultimate challenge during the last week of the regular season. Maintaining a spotless record through this stretch will be necessary for the Tigers’ postseason aspirations.