2014 Auburn Tigers Odds to Win the SEC with Picks & Predictions
by Aaron Smith - 7/29/2014
The Auburn Tigers were one stop away from picking up another BCS National Championship last year. The Tigers controlled most of the title game, and they outgained Florida State by 64 yards and had a 25-19 advantage when it came to first downs. Unfortunately for them, it was Florida State who came up with a huge special teams play late, and then the Auburn defense simply couldn't stop Jameis Winston and company late in the game.
It's important to take a step back and look at what Auburn did in 2013. Though the Tigers did come up just short in their quest for another title, last year's season was a massive success. Auburn went 3-9 in 2012, and they didn't win a single SEC game all season. Gus Malzahn was expected to turn the program around, but no one could have expected a turnaround of that magnitude and in that short of a time frame. A look at how the team progressed through the course of the season is another testament to how great of a coaching job Malzahn did. Early in the year, they were outplayed by Washington State and snuck past Mississippi State. Late in the year, they were beating teams like Alabama and Missouri. Auburn returns 14 starters from last year's team. Can the Tigers do something special again this season?
2014 Auburn Tigers Offense
The maturation of quarterback Nick Marshall was an impressive sight to see in 2013. Marshall started the season in a quarterback battle, and he finished as a guy who was a team leader. Marshall is now a Heisman candidate , and he's a guy who is perfectly fit to run Malzahn's highly-complex offense. This is an offense where making the right decision as the quarterback is so crucial, and Marshall has proven very capable of doing precisely that. As he continues to progress as a passer he will be even more dangerous.
The strength of this Auburn offense is their offensive front. This is a group that doesn't get enough credit for their utter domination in the trenches. I don't think you'll find a better offensive line in all of college football. Reese Dismukes is a senior center who is the leader of this unit, but he isn't alone. Eight of their Top 10 offensive linemen return from last year, and this group is going to be opening up running lanes all over again in 2014. Tre Mason won't be here to run through them, but there might not be as big of a drop off at the position as some believe. Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey "Tail Lights" Grant should keep Auburn in good shape in the backfield. Speed is essential in this offense, and both of these guys have plenty of speed to burn. Grant ran a 4.18 40-yard dash this spring.
There is much more depth at the wide receiver position than there was a year ago. Auburn should have plenty of reliable guys for Marshall to the throw ball to. Auburn scored a minimum of 30 points in each of their last 10 games a year ago, and I see no reason to expect anything less from them in 2014.
2014 Auburn Tigers Defense
The 2013 Auburn Tigers defense certainly wasn't the strength of their team. In fact, Auburn allowed 38, 28, 42, and 34 points, respectively, in their last four games. It's really tough to allow that many points on a weekly basis against good teams and win. Auburn was able to do it for the majority of the year in 2013, but they'll need to be a little better defensively moving forward.
If we are to believe defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, then this Auburn defensive line could be something special in 2014. He called this group the single deepest position he has ever seen in his 30-plus years as a coach. Dee Ford was the star of this group in 2013, but he is now a Kansas City Chief after they selected him in the first round of the NFL Draft. This year's defensive front won't have any superstars, but they have far more high-end options. Look for lots of substitutes so this unit stays fresh at all times. This might be the best defensive front in the SEC.
The linebackers got lost too often last year, and they'll have to be more disciplined in the season ahead. Auburn returns their three most talented linebackers, and that group should be improved from a year ago. The single biggest weakness of this defense in 2013 was the secondary. Opposing teams really had a field day against this unit. I expect the secondary to be their biggest problem again in 2014. I don't think the Tigers did enough to fix their issues here. Look for good quarterback to pick this group apart.
2014 Auburn Odds to Win SEC
The oddsmakers aren't quite as high on the defending runner up as you might think. Bovada lists Auburn at 5/1 to win the SEC. The Tigers are listed at 10/1 to win the FBS Championship. More specifically, Auburn is listed at 4/1 to win the SEC West. The Tigers season win total is set at 9.5 .
2014 Auburn Tigers Picks & Predictions
Why is Auburn not getting any more love from the oddsmakers? The biggest reason is likely their schedule. Auburn's schedule is about as tough as any you will see in all of college football. The Tigers must play Kansas State, Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama all on the road. They also host LSU and South Carolina. I think there's a good chance Auburn is actually a better team than last year, but I don't think they will make it as far thanks to this brutal schedule. Look for a good season out of the Tigers, but I don't expect any titles for them in 2014.
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