Auburn athletics is really sort of baffling when you think about it. In 2004, they go undefeated under Tommy Tuberville and shut out of the National Championship game in favor of a USC/Oklahoma match up in the Orange Bowl. USC ended up vacating that win and really. Oklahoma didn’t deserve to be in that game in the first place (if you ask me). Fast forward to 2010 and Auburn goes undefeated again, this time playing and defeating Oregon in the National Championship game. Here is the problem, in 2008 the Tigers went 5-7, and then to make matters worse.. in 2012 ended up 3-9. In both cases, Tuberville and Chizik were fired. In 2013, the Tigers are sorta re-starting over again with the hire of Gus Malzahn, the architect behind the National Championship offense for the Tigers in 2010. Ideally, this was probably a good hire as the personnel currently in place at Auburn is a better fit for what Malzahn wants to do. WarEagle fans may have to exercise a bit of patience as Malzahn reintroduces his system and finds a QB to run it, but they should see some immediate improvement in 2013.
<b>8/31 Washington State </b>
The Mad Scientist and Pirate aficionado, Mike Leach, returns for his second season with the Cougars after a dreadful 2012 where they went 3-9 overall and 1-4 in PAC12 play. That one win in the PAC12 came to instate rival Washington, and I consider that to be significant. Leach still has plenty of building to do at WSU, and that win may have just been the little of the edge he needs to continue his effort. The Cougars will travel east to face their kitty brethren at Auburn after both had equally horrific seasons. Auburn does have the greater advantage of having the overall better talent, but Leach has a year in already and his players more familiar with his system. The score board may look like an arcade game is going berserk, but Auburn should be able to make some key stops and plays. Auburn by 17.
<b>9/7 Arkansas State</b>
Malzahn ditches his post as the Auburn Offensive Coordinator to take on his first head coaching gig at Arkansas State, leaves after a one year stint to return to Auburn as Head coach only to face his former team in week 2. The Red Wolves went 10-3 in 2012 under the tutelage of Malzahn. The three losses came from @Oregon, @Nebraska and Western Kentucky by an average margin of 21.6 points per game. Considering they were probably serious under dogs vs Oregon and Nebraska, that is pretty impressive considering the talent at both schools. It is probably a good thing that Malzahn is now coaching the Tigers.. or else this may have been ugly – for Auburn. Auburn by 21.
<b>9/14 Mississippi State </b>
The Tigers will open up their SEC schedule with a battle against the first pack of Bullmutts at home game. Considering Auburn has been very inconsistent the last several years, it almost isn’t fair to compare this annual divisional game. However, since 2008 Miss State has managed only 1 win and that was last season with a 28-10 victory. Other than last season, Auburn has owned this season the last 5 years with an average margin of victory by 9 points per game. Dan Mullen and his systems are well entrenched and has plenty of veteran talent (especially defensively) and a returning QB to win this game. Auburn will keep this game close but will fall just short of getting back on track in the conference. Bullmutts by 3.
Cat Fight!! Unfortunately for Auburn fans, LSU appears have had the sharper claws in this contest. Since 2008, LSU is 4-1 vs. Auburn and the average margin of victory for the winner is 14 points. Auburn held their own last season even amidst one of their worst seasons in program history. Both teams will be going through a bit of an offensive make over with Cam Cameron entering his first season as Offensive Coordinator at LSU. Auburn is probably far from ready to compete against teams like LSU just yet, and both teams should be better offensively. The edge in this game goes to LSU with a better Defense and the fact the game is in Death Valley. LSU by 14.
<b>9/28 OPEN DATE </b>
<b>10/5 Ole Miss </b>
After an open date, Auburn welcomes Ole Miss to town for a game which I suspect may set the scoreboard on fire before it’s over. This game has the potential to have a combined 100 points and 1000 yards of offense. Hugh Freeze is in his second year as head coach of the Rebels has a returning QB and has recruited well. Ole Miss managed 451 yards of offense in 2012, and its entirely possible that Ole Miss repeats that feat and Auburn matches. Ole Miss edges this win with special teams by 6.
<b>10/12 Western Carolina</b>
The Catamounts won 1 game, in Division 2 and allowed nearly 40 points to every other team in 2012. Auburn might feel like its 2010 all over again along with some good practice to iron out the kinks. Auburn by 50.
<b>10/19 @Texas A&M</b>
Here’s a few numbers for Auburn fans to remember. 63. 42. 319. 352. That would be the number of points, margin of victory, passing yards and rushing yards from this first divisional meeting between the Aggies and Tigers. Painful. This will be the third team in 2013, Auburn will have to face with a coach in his second year. Fortunately for Malzahn, Texas A&M doesn’t have the most stellar of Defensive lines in the conference. This could be another high scoring affair, but not quite distributed evenly. Aggies by 10.
<b>10/26 Florida Atlantic</b>
The one generous aspect about the Auburn schedule, is they do seem to have somewhat of a nice rest of games in between major match ups. This will be the fourth team Auburn has on their schedule with a coach in their second year. Carl Pelini, Bo Pelini’s brother, and the Owl faithful share one thing in common with Auburn. 3-9, Fla Atlantic’s 2012 record with wins over Wagner, Troy and Western Kentucky. The Owls lost to Jawjuh by 36 and Bama by 33. I don’t expect they will fare much better in 2013 against the SEC. WarEagle by 27.
<b>11/2 @Arkansas </b>
There were a total of 2 SEC wins between both of these teams in 2012. Arkansas won both, including over Auburn by 17 points. By this point in the schedule, the Razorbacks will have faced La-Lafayette, Samford, Southern Miss, @Rutgers, Texas A&M, @Florida, South Carolina, and just coming off a trip to Alabama. Both teams with first year coachs are fighting for a bowl berth and both likely running out of opportunities to do so. Both Bielema and Malzahn have a good way of using the best of what they have, but with this game being at Fayetteville and Bielema having an extra week to prepare, Bielema is one step ahead of Malzahn and becomes bowl eligible but just barely. Woo-Pig-Sooie by 3.
Auburn will be a team of streaks in 2013. Mostly with either coaches in their first or second year and when they head to Knoxville to face first year Head Vawl Butch Jones. In 2012, Tennessee had 2 more wins than Auburn, and 1 more win than Auburn in the SEC. But that win was to Kentucky and that’s not saying much. The good news for Auburn here is… QB Tyler Bray and his 3612 yards and Justin Hunters 1083 receiving yards are off to the NFL, however, neither team will be entering the year knowing who their starting QB will be. By the time this game rolls around… they better figure it out because this may be another situation where each team is looking to secure bowl eligibility. Since Kiehl Frazier is still in-house at Auburn, I believe this may be the edge that the Tigers need to win this game since he is familiar with Malzahn and his offense. Tigers win by 13.
This annual and historic rivalry used to be a two-way affair. However, the Slobberhounds have taken 4 out of the last five of this series and a few of those wins were pretty lopsided. The Leghumpers defensively allowed 238 yards compared to the 497 total yards Auburn allowed in 2012. The Mutts lost a lot of defensive talent to the NFL but returns plenty of power offensively. By this point in the season, the depth issues at Auburn are probably starting to take their toll, while the Ga defense is probably starting to find their way again. Buttsniffers get a road SEC victory by 17.
<b>11/23 OPEN DATE</b>
Gus Malzahn is 1-1 versus Nick Saban. The one loss by 4 points, the win by 1 point. Think Saban isn’t studying up and paying close attention to what is going on about a hour east of Tuscaloosa? You can bet with a week off before the Iron Bowl Malzahn is going to unleash his entire arsenal and perhaps even come up with a few tricks to face the defending National Champion. If you saw what Manziel and Texas A&M did to Bama last year, Cam Newton in 2010 and THE FLORIDA GATORS Tim Tebow before him, Saban hasn’t had the best of luck with dual threat QBs. Auburn and Malzahn may find a way to keep things interesting for a while, but Bama has too much depth and fire power of their own to tool with. Bama by 17.
Auburn and their fans should look at the reality of the situation. Yes, by this prediction they are going 5-7. Not going to a bowl game for a 2nd consecutive year will be quite disheartening and frustrating. That program is broken and is missing crucial parts to keep the machine moving and progressing. There is one word that WarEagle family should focus on for 2013. Improvement. Forget about the past. Prepare for the future and improve everyday.