NCAA Team Preview: Auburn Tigers

The Auburn Tigers are looking to get back into the national title game after their defeat to the Florida State Seminoles. After the miracle comeback win over Alabama, the Tigers felt they were destined to win the whole thing. Auburn then put 59 points up on Missouri in the Big 12 title game to seal the deal. Auburn is looking to replace several key starters from a season ago, but their schedule will not take it easy on them. The Tigers get started early with tough games, and the beat continues all the way until December.

A season ago the Tigers went 12-2 and 7-1 in SEC play. The Tigers lost several key players including their running back Tre Mason, who was drafted by the St. Louis Rams. Mason finished the season with 1,600+ yards and 21 touchdowns. Auburn was the best rushing team in all of college football, with 328.3 yards per game. The defense was middle of the pack, as they allowed just shy of 25 points per game. The Tigers losses came at LSU, and then in the national title game to the Florida State Seminoles.

Gus Malzahn will not let the loss of his top offensive lineman Greg Robinson and running back Tre Mason to put them behind the curve. The Auburn offense is built to run, and that’s exactly what they will do. Quarterback Nick Marshall returns, and he will look to hand the ball off to Cameron Artis-Payne early and often. The receiving core for the Tigers will play a huge role, despite being a run happy team. The Tigers feature Sammy Coates and Quan Bray, both returnees from a season ago.

The defense returns six starters from a season ago. Two guys are coming back that were back-ups and will remain in that role. Key guys such as Gabe Wright and LaDarius Owens will feature a ferocious front four. On the defensive side, the weakness may come in the secondary, where in both the SEC final and National Championship games weaknesses were found. Jermaine Whitehead and Jimmy Hutchinson will get the first chances to perform for the Tigers. After that, Auburn will turn to Markell Boston, a freshman.

Auburn will start the 2014 season on August 30th in a big early season conference game. The Tigers will host the Arkansas Razorbacks. Following that game, Auburn will host San Jose State, and then head out to Kansas State to face a tough Wildcats team out of the Big 12. September 27th starts two straight home games with Louisiana Tech, followed by a conference game against LSU. The final 7 games feature 5 of them against ranked teams. The first is at Mississippi State, an unranked team, followed by an off week, and then a trip to South Carolina. After that, Auburn will play at Ole Miss, host Texas A+M, travel to Georgia, host Samford and then finish the season in a rivalry game on the road at Alabama.

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