2010 record: 14-0
2010 Bowl Result: Beat Oregon 22-19 in BCS Championship Game
2010 Against the Spread: 10-4
2010 over/under: 8-6
Returning Starters: 6 (3 offense, 3 defense)
Throughout August we are releasing pre-season previews for all the major college teams. Our College Football Handicappers are doing plenty of research to make sure we release winners every week during the upcoming season.
Cynics might say Auburn certainly got their money’s worth for a year of Cam Newton’s services. He led the Tigers to an undefeated season and their first official national title since 1957 with a 22-19 victory over Oregon in the BCS Championship. Newton left for the NFL and was the number one overall draft pick by the Carolina Panthers. Now coach Gene Chizik must replace Newton and 15 other starters. The Tigers are still ranked #19 in the pre-season coaches’ poll.
Here is a look at Auburn’s offense, defense, special teams, and schedule.
The offense was one of the most explosive in the country. The Tigers averaged 500 total yards which was 7th best in the country. The passing game was average with 214.4 yards a game, but the running game was #5 in the country with 285.6 yards a game. They averaged 41.2 points a game which was also #7 in the country. However, only 3 starters return from that unit.
It is impossible to put into context what the Heisman winning Cam Newton brought to the Tigers. He was the leading passer and rusher with 4,327 total yards, an incredible 51 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. He even caught a touchdown pass. His 51 touchdowns were more than 82 teams in college football scored total! It was announced this week that junior Barrett Trotter would take over the reins at quarterback. He was expected to compete for the starting job 2 years ago but a torn ACL sideline him. He was still recovering, and couldn’t push Newton for the starting job. I don’t think he would have beaten Newton in a fair competition even if healthy. He threw 9 passes last year with no TD’s or picks. He had 5 rushes for 68 yards and a score. He won’t approach the video game like numbers Newton put up last year but few players can. Sophomore Clint Moseley and true freshman Kiehl Frazier will be the back-ups.
Though Auburn loses a lot of talent, they do return running backs sophomore Michael Dyer and junior Onterio McCalebb. Dyer had 182 carries, 1,093 yards, and 5 touchdowns last year. He was the MVP of the BCS Championship game with a 143 yard game. McCalebb had 95 carries for 810 yards, and 9 touchdowns. He also caught 7 passes and a touchdown last year. Both running backs should get more carries as Trotter isn’t much of threat to run like Newton. True Freshman Tre Mason will get some carries as well. Redshirt freshman Ladarious Phillips takes over at fullback for Eric Smith who was dismissed from the team after an off-season arrest.
The Tigers lose 5 of their top receivers from a year ago. Underclassmen Antonio Goodwin and Shaun Kitchens were supposed to be on the team this year but were dismissed after they were arrested for armed robbery. Darvin Adams, Terrell Zachery, and Kodi Burns all are gone as well. The absence of those 5 will create a lack of depth for the Tigers in the receiving corps. Junior Emory Blake is the top returning receiver. He had 33 catches, 554 yards, and a team-high 8 touchdown catches. Redshirt freshman Trovon Reed was supposed to play right away last year but a knee injury sidelined him. Junior Quindarius Carr had 3 catches for 102 yards and 2 scores. Junior DeAngelo Benton hasn’t lived up to expectations and has had a problem with drops. He needs to step up his production. Junior Philip Lutzenkirchen returns as the tight end. He had 15 catches, 185 yards, and 5 scores. He will get more targets this year along with the two running backs.
The offensive line returns starters at both tackle positions. Senior A.J. Greene suffered a season ending ankle injury last September when he was playing right tackle. Senior Brandon Mosley replaced him at right tackle and will stay there this season. Greene moves to left tackle. Auburn had a great 2011 recruiting class and some of the kids will have to step up on the line. There should be some drop off especially with the loss of so many players in the skill positions behind them.
Auburn had one of the best run defenses in the country allowing only 109.1 yards a game. However, teams really didn’t have to run against the Tigers as the pass defense was among the worst in the country. Auburn gave up 259.3 yards a game through the air. Overall, Auburn gave up 368.4 yards a game which was #59 in the country. The Tigers allowed 24.1 points a game which was #53 in the country. The defense only returns 3 starters.
The Tigers have to replace a lot of talent including DT Nick Fairley now with the Lions. Sophomore Nosa Eguae is expected to have a breakout year at defensive end as a pass rusher. Neiko Thorpe will lead the secondary, and Daren Bates moves from defensive back to linebacker. The Tigers recruited a lot of great players on defense, and the kids will get significant playing time right away. It will be a trial by fire for the Auburn defense.
Sophomore Cody Parkey takes over at kicker from Wes Byrum, Auburn’s all time leading scorer. Parkey was a high school All-American kicker. He has a strong leg and is accurate as well.
Sophomore Steven Clark is the full time punter this year after a handful of punts last year. Punting was a trouble spot for the Tigers last year and they look to Clark to help solve those problems. Auburn finished last in the SEC in punting last year.
Onterio McCalebb and Trovon Reed will return kicks. McCalebb returned 8 kicks last year and had a 28.4 return average. Quindarius Carr will return punts, despite a costly fumble against Alabama that nearly cost Auburn that game and potentially a spot in the National Championship game.
Auburn opens with home games against Utah St and Mississippi St. The Tigers then travel to Clemson before a home game against Florida Atlantic. Auburn then has a tough two game road trip with games at South Carolina and Arkansas. Then the Tigers host Florida, before traveling to LSU. That is a brutal 4 game stretch that will go a long way towards seeing how good the young Tigers are. After that stretch, they host Ole Miss before a game at Georgia. Then Auburn hosts Samford before finishing the season with the Iron Bowl against Alabama in Tuscaloosa. This team should win 9 games, but they won’t compete for the SEC title.
Auburn was 10-4 ATS last year including 6-3 at home and 4-1 on the road. The over/under was 8-6 including 5-4 at home and 3-2 on the road.
Game to Play Auburn
In 2009, Alabama came to Auburn with the Crimson Tide undefeated and needing a win to stay in the top two in the BCS Standings. Alabama scored late to win 26-21 to keep the undefeated season alive. Last season the situation was reversed. Bama hosted Auburn with the Tigers needing a win to keep their undefeated season alive. Auburn rallied from a 24-0 deficit to win 28-27. The point is these two teams usually play each other close because of the passionate hate they feel towards each other. Though Auburn is rebuilding and Alabama is loaded for another National title run, I still say the Tigers keep it close.
Game to Bet against Auburn
Last season Auburn beat LSU at home 24-17. Now the Tigers travel to Baton Rouge for the rematch. It is the last game of a 4 game stretch that Auburn plays 4 of the SEC’s best teams. I like LSU to beat Auburn this year.
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