The Auburn Tigers have arrived at the halfway point of the 2019 season. As of now, the Tigers (5-1, 2-1) sit just outside the top 10, ranked No. 11 in both major polls.
While Florida was definitely a winnable game, I’m not sure how anyone could truly be disappointed with the Tigers’ current position. They started a true freshman at quarterback and played the Nos. 11, 17 and 10 teams in the country all on the road.
Way back in August, I predicted Auburn to finish the regular season with a record of 9-3 (5-3). That is still a reasonable goal, but it will certainly be a challenge. We all know a lot more today than we did two months ago having witnessed seven weeks of college football.
Let’s revisit where the Tigers have been and where they’re going in the next six games.
Oregon, Auburn’s first opponent, hasn’t lost a game since opening night and looks to be the class of the Pac-12. Now, that might not be saying a whole lot considering the whole conference reeks of mediocrity, but it’s true nonetheless.
Tulane has also not lost a game since falling to the Tigers in Week 2. It was a very solid non-conference opponent and a serious threat to win 10 games in the AAC. Kent State was not very good when AU played it and it’s still not very good now. However, the Golden Flashes are atop the Eastern division in the MAC at the moment.
Jimbo Fisher sleeps on a mountain of cash at night, but Texas A&M more resembles chump change this season. The Aggies aren’t not bad. They’re just not good.
Upon further review, Mississippi State appears to be horrendous. Auburn’s blowout of the Bulldogs looks a little less impressive every week.
Florida is the real deal. The Gators have a very good defense and enough playmakers on offense to compete with anybody.
So, some teams aren’t as good and some are better than I thought. It pretty much evens out to be the schedule most of us thought it was going to be.
I’ll take 5-1 and be glad to have it. Of course, now things get really interesting. As George Costanza would say, “We’re taking it up a notch!” The next six games will determine whether Auburn has a championship season, a good season or just another ho-hum 8-5 stinker.
With all due respect to Arkansas, Ole Miss and Samford, I’m going to concentrate on the other three opponents left on the schedule. I’m not saying Arkansas and Ole Miss can’t beat the Tigers. I’m just saying those three games have to be givens if the Tigers expect to be relevant.
Auburn will need to run the table in order to compete for a championship. It’s certainly possible but honestly seems unlikely. I believe the Tigers could go 1-2 against LSU, Georgia and Alabama (being very competitive) and still have a “good” season with a bowl win. 10-3 is nothing to sneeze at in this league.
LSU and Alabama are very similar offensively and both extraordinarily good at what they do. Georgia is very good but is definitely beatable. Auburn has a great defense, but it’ll need to hold the Tide and Tigers to 30 points or less to have a chance.
Can that even be done? We’ll see.
AU does get Georgia and Alabama at home which should make a difference. Either way, Gus Malzahn, Bo Nix and the Tiger offense are going to have to score a lot of touchdowns in the next six games to have any realistic chance of success.