Game-By-Game Predictions for Auburn's 2014 Season
With a ton of question marks surrounding the team following a winless SEC record the season before, Gus Malzahn came in and reinvigorated the program by leading the Tigers to an SEC title and an appearance in the national championship game against Florida State.
Now, what will Auburn do for an encore?
From a talent standpoint, the Tigers have the makeup to not only make it back to the national title game, but to close the deal and win it all this time around.
Nick Marshall returns to lead another dangerous Malzahn offense, and with Marshall's passing skills having improved, Auburn will be a chore for anyone in the nation to stop. On defense, the Tigers should be improved as well, with several key players returning on the defensive line.
But Auburn's biggest problem in 2014 may be its ridiculously tough schedule. Will the Tigers be able to navigate it to return to the SEC title game?
Let's run through the schedule and predict how things will shake out on the Plains this season.
8/30/14 - vs. Arkansas (WIN)
The problem for Arkansas isn't that it won't be better. But honestly, it doesn't have enough yet to be competing with the defending SEC champions. The Tigers put up a lot of points and open the season with a dominant victory.
9/6/14 - vs. San Jose State (WIN)
Raise your hand if you believe that the Spartans will roll into the Plains and pick up the win. Since there are no hands raised, we will move along.
9/18/14 - at Kansas State (WIN)
Don't overlook this potential national championship-ruining game. A Thursday night game in Manhattan will be a tough task for the Tigers, but Marshall finds a way to outscore the Wildcats en route to an Auburn victory.
9/27/14 - vs. Louisiana Tech (WIN)
This is a nice game to have for Homecoming week. There's no doubt that the Tigers make quick work of the Bulldogs here.
10/4/14 - vs. LSU (WIN)
Auburn's lone loss prior to the national championship game last season came at the hands of Les Miles' LSU team. The Tigers (the Baton Rouge version) are going to have their fair share of adjusting to do to a new quarterback, so that gives Auburn the advantage here. LSU won't have enough offense to keep up.
10/11/14 - at Mississippi State (WIN)
This could certainly be a season-defining game for Mississippi State. This will likely be one of the biggest challenges of the season for the Tigers, however, Marshall will outplay Dak Prescott and lead Auburn to the big road win.
10/25/14 - vs. South Carolina (WIN)
The brutal Auburn schedule that we discussed recently really starts to set in here. After getting two tough West teams in LSU and Mississippi State, Malzahn's squad has to turn around and play a Top-10 South Carolina team. This could be a bit of a struggle, but the home-field advantage gives Auburn the win over the Gamecocks.
11/1/14 - at Ole Miss (WIN)
Seriously, if Auburn goes 4-0 during this ridiculous stretch, it would be a massive achievement. The Rebels will be ready for this challenge, and this is probably one of the best SEC games of the year. The Tigers find a way to remain undefeated, though.
11/8/14 - vs. Texas A&M (WIN)
Thankfully there's no Johnny Manziel for the Aggies. Even with an improved defense, Texas A&M is going to take a small step back this season. Auburn moves to 9-0 before the showdown with Georgia.
11/15/14 - at Georgia (LOSS)
Last season, Auburn benefited from a miracle play on the Plains to knock off the Bulldogs. I don't see that happening again. Georgia will also be undefeated at this point in the season, and it'll remain that way after hard-fought victory.
11/22/14 - vs. Samford (WIN)
The Tigers will have certainly lost some momentum after the loss in Athens, so it's a good thing that Samford comes to town. This won't even be close.
11/29/14 - at Alabama (LOSS)
Back-to-back SEC road games at Georgia and at Alabama? It's too much to ask of this Auburn team. With the Bulldogs and Tide on a collision course for the SEC championship, Alabama gets its payback on Auburn from a year ago.
Auburn 2014 Projected Record 10-2 (6-2)
How do you see the defending SEC champions faring in 2014? Let us know your game-by-game predictions for the Tigers by commenting below! For more college football talk, follow FanIQ College Football or myself on Twitter!