The Auburn football team has made a name for itself the past several years as being one of the most dangerous teams in the Southeastern Conference. Executing upset after upset, the Tigers have provided dangerous, underrated teams that cannot be overlooked. Just ask Florida’s 2006 team … or its 2007 team, as well.
Auburn’s home-field advantage may cause as much havoc as a rabid animal with games against LSU, Arkansas and Georgia all in Jordan-Hare Stadium. With Clemson to begin the season in the Georgia Dome and the last regular season game being in Tuscaloosa against Alabama, how many of these teams will the Tigers upset?
Simply put, three.
The defending SEC Champion Tigers are simply too talented for Auburn to compete with. With its strong defense and fully returning backfield, Auburn simply won’t be able to hang. Despite Georgia’s easy schedule being the most-common reason listed for the Bulldogs repeating the East, they have one of the strongest defenses in the country and the arm of Aaron Murry leading an offensive attack. If Coach Mark Richt can keep suspensions from occurring in Athens–for once–the Bulldogs will handle the Tigers … again.
Clemson, however, will begin the 2012 season in the same stride it ended the 2011 year. No, not a 70-33 embarrassing, blowout loss. Just a standard, possible-blowout loss. Auburn’s players have remarked how they remember the celebration by not only Coach Dabo Swinney, but also Clemson fans.
With Sammy Watkins suspended after an offseason arrest for marijuana possession and an inexperienced offensive line, Auburn’s defensive line is going to provide a long night for quarterback Tajh Boyd and running back Andre Ellington.
Arkansas did something against the Tigers in 2011–and 2010 … and 2009–that will probably happen again in 2012: successfully pass for a large amount of yards. The difference in 2012 will again rest in the hands of the defensive line. With a good rush threat, running back Knile Davis will have trouble finding holes and quarterback Tyler Wilson will be hurried in passing.
Then the experienced secondary will make its mark. After sloppy tackling and poor coverage plagued the Tigers last season, defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder has the defensive backs and safeties in much better shape for this season.
The biggest game of the season is always the Iron Bowl. There’s no telling who will win this rivalry game year in and year out. The example was set in 2010 when Alabama faithful were certain a win was coming, leading 24-0 in the second quarter. Everyone should know the rest of the story by now.
How will the upset happen in 2012? There’s no way to predict it. Let’s take a shot at predicting it anyway.
The last dual-threat QB Alabama faced that wore burnt orange and navy was one of the best in the history of college football. That will not be the case with Kiehl Frazier. However, Frazier’s leadership will allow him to play above his level of talent thanks to the excellent backfield the Tigers have on the roster.
The Tide’s backfield, on the other hand, is having an off year after Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson were both Heisman Trophy finalist, with Ingram winning the award in 2009. The defensive line for Auburn–yes, again–will be the impact maker. Putting the game in A.J. McCarron‘s hands will lead to a defeat for the Tide.
After the 2012 season, Alabama will still only have beaten Auburn once in Tuscaloosa.