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It goes without saying We ALL love Auburn so the number of dubs should never change that.
With that said I am writing this more to document my expectations as we board that Auburn rollercoaster this season.
Game 1 - Akron Zips vs Auburn Tigers, Auburn, AL @ 6:00pm CT Televised on ESPN+
First game of the Coach Harsin era here at Auburn. Akron who went 1 - 5 in 2020 and found their only win against the 0 - 5 Bowling Green. Both teams ended up at the bottom of the Mac East which is the same division that has Buffalo in it.
Auburn has only played Akron once in 1988 and Auburn handled them 42 - 0. In 1988 Auburn went 10 - 2 in Pat Dye's 8th season and saw us with a final rank in the AP Poll 8th and 7th in the Coaches Poll.
I cannot imagine a scenario that does not have Auburn winning this game. It will be hard to come out of this game with any true measurement with how good or bad we will be based on this game as this should be a primer game. We should never discount our opponents but unfortunately all programs were hit hard last year due to practice and experience and Akron was hit harder than Auburn only getting to play 6 games.
Prediction - Akron 3 - Auburn 38
Game 2 - Alabama State Hornets vs Auburn Tigers, Auburn, AL @11:00AM CT Televised on SECN
Do I start all of these with second game of the Coach Harsin era? 😏 Why not! In our second week the Hornets come to town again. in our one and only meeting back in 2018 our Tigers curb stomped them 63 - 9.
The Hornets are actually coming in with some fresh football experience given they played their games this past spring. They went 3 - 3 but one of their dubs was a forfeit so they actually only played 5 games. The last one being on April 14th, 2021, against Alabama A&M in the Magic City Classic where they lost 38 - 14.
I believe they will be coming into JordanHare 1 - 0 as they play Miles in their first week (Look at that a bonus call). Even with these two undefeated teams coming in with some momentum I do not think the Hornets will have what it takes to outlast the Tigers.
Prediction - Alabama State 10 - Auburn 45
Game 3 - Auburn Tigers vs Penn State Nittany Lions, University Park, PA @6:30PM ET Televised on ABC
Well, here we are in week 3 of Coach Harsin era and it is a doozy! Penn State is coming in preseason ranked at #16 in the USA Today poll. Auburn and Penn State have only played twice in the history of these two universities. Auburn won the last one in the Jan 1, 2003, Capital One Bowl 13 - 9 and Penn State beating Auburn in the Outback Bowl on Jan 1, 1996 destroying the Tigers 43 - 14.
Obviously being on the road, really not being able to get a real test in our first two games will be a detriment to getting our Tigers ready for the absolute hostile environment they are going to have to execute on a very big stage. Another aspect is Penn State in week 1 plays the 13th ranked Wisconsin Badgers Team and this will be a brawl in week one. If Penn State loses to the Badgers, this will immediately put them in a position that the Auburn game in week #3 is almost a must win.
Honestly, I have never seen in the recent era where Penn State has been a dominating team, much like Auburn so this is not a given type of situation. Anyone who claims this is an easy win for Penn State is just riding a hype bus... Penn State rarely has an easy win against a D1 opponent sort of like our experience lately down here on the plains.
I just think our young team given their experience will need to do too much to knock the Nittany Lions off in their home den and our Tigers may have their tails between their legs leaving Beaver stadium. 😢 Not going to support them any less or start criticizing them, it will be what it is, just a tough road trip.
Prediction - Auburn Tigers 13 - Penn State 27
My heart says we will be 3 - 0 after Week 3 but my brain is telling me something different and to maintain some level of objectivity it is what it is....
War Eagle Y'all and God Bless!
I use this to help you understand why it has taken so long to write about T.J. Finley and his transfer to Auburn.
Understandably, there are many "what ifs" and many more predictions about the situation. Most are guessing. They have zero ideas as to what's going on inside the athletic complex. I'm sure several have guessed correctly, still, it does not mean they "Know" anything.
I'll go over what I do know. Then we can talk about the "what ifs."
Things I know.
It was VERY CLEAR Auburn did not have a lot of QB competition at the starting QB spot. It has been Bo's job since he stepped on campus. Talk about pressure!
Bo Nix certainly has the competitive fire to be great.
Here is a snippet from Davis' bio on the official website: Outstanding dual-threat quarterback who led North Shore High to a 14-1 record and the state semifinals in 2020 … 3,553 yards passing with 38 TD and 875 yards rushing with 22 score
It's worth noting these numbers were achieved in the highest echelon of Texas high school football. Enough said.
I am not going to discuss the other QB's that are in the room because they have very little chance of seeing action this season.
SEC game experience. This is the main reason Auburn went after T. J. Finley when he entered the transfer portal. Finley has tremendous upside and elite arm strength. Two more factors that made Finley a great target for the Auburn Tiger QB room.
The "What Ifs"
These are my thoughts. They are not known quantities, but just my personal opinions and guesses.
Nobody on the current coaching staff cares who starts for Auburn at QB. They want the best guy to prove it's his team.
Bo may have the highest upside of any QB other than the two currently in the NFL.
There is a caveat. None of the QB's recently recruited out of high school made significant improvement year to year. Including Bo.
For some QB's it takes a couple of seasons. Their bodies are still growing. The strength and conditioning programs are unlike anything they have done previously. Then there is coaching.
Finley was thrust into the starting role at LSU as a true freshman. Usually, this is not a recipe for success. It wasn't. It was not a failure either. Finley had some very impressive moments that should translate well to the new Auburn offense.
Much like Bo Nix's first campaign.
If Auburn for some reason had to start Dematrius Davis, it would not be an ideal scenario. Over the years, very few true Freshman QB's have played at a championship level.
However, Now Nix, Finley, and Davis have proven QB developers in their corner. Hopefully, we see major improvement this upcoming season.
The big plus to this comes from knowing the best teams have a QB ready to come off the bench and keep the championship drive alive. For example, Ohio State used three QB's one season they won the BCS Championship.
Adding Finley was good common sense and a prudent move. If he wins the starting job, good on him. If not, he will be ready whenever Nix decides to take his game to the next level.
Either way, Auburn wins!
|photo by Tiger Pixel Pusher|
@Tiger3P on Twitter
News has leaked recently that a 12 team playoff is the move within the CFB Playoff committee. Let me insert that this author has long clamored for more teams in the playoff for the national championship each season.
Never in my wildest dream did I think the committee would be considering a 12 team playoff. One caveat leaked is these first-round games might be "on campus" games.
That is a huge piece of information, and a tremendous incentive to have a good record which would mean an additional home game each season for any team that didn't make the Top 4 spots.
Now to Auburn. It is far too early to know for certain if Coach Bryan Harsin will have Auburn in the playoff race any time soon. However, this author can dream, and dream big, so let's dive in.
Our first look will be at the upcoming season. 2021 will be the most difficult season for this staff and this team to climb the mountain and make the fall dance if you will.
|Punter at "X"|
From Josh Dowdy @heartofauburn
First, Coach Harsin and his Offensive Coordinator Mike Bobo are creating their offensive playbook. Included in this will be the language used for play-calling. Other items may include route designation for each receiver position. What the former staff called the "X" position may not be what this staff decides to name it. In fact, the two coaches creating this offense may not even have called this position the same thing prior to coming to Auburn.
Obviously, I gave away my main concern with this season by mentioning the offense first. It is, in my opinion, the biggest question mark on the entire team. The questions start with the head coach and trickle down throughout the entire offense.
I am confident the defense will be at the very least serviceable, and most likely very good.
So, back to the playoff picture. Nobody knows when this new 12 team playoff will begin. When it does, Auburn "should never have a season they are not in the playoff picture. Unless it starts this coming fall. Let me expound.
Once the schedule was announced, and the university announced Auburn football games will be played at full capacity attendance, I went back through our opponents to see what I thought was plausible record-wise for this team.
My firm belief is 8 wins should be the pivot point for this team. The only way I wouldn't be disappointed with a 7 win season would be a rash of injuries or each loss was by one score (6 points) or less. That would mean there is hope for the future.
8 wins would be a good signal that things are trending up. Unless the losses are complete blowouts. Double-digit losses to 4 teams would not be a good indicator of improvement. Basically, that would be treading water, and we are all tired of treading water at this point.
9 wins. Now, 9 wins would mean we took down someone on our schedule that everybody else has written us off as losing to. Whether it's finally winning at Redstick, or knocking off UGA or Bama.
3 losses, even with one of the toughest schedules in the country probably wouldn't get Auburn in a 12 team playoff.
***editors note Minutes after this article was published, news broke that this 12 team playoff would begin at the end of the 2023 football season.