Can Auburn repeat 2004 season?
Earlier this week, I broke down the University of Alabama's 2006 football schedule and made my fearless preseason predictions.
Now, it is Auburn's turn.
The Tigers are early SEC favorites in nearly every preseason magazines and for good reason.
Quarterback Brandon Cox and running back Kenny irons are back, along with many members of last season's stellar defense. If the Tigers can get through LSU and Amen Corner, Tommy Tuberville could be spending the New Year in Tempe, Ariz., in the BCS National Championship game.
Sept. 2 Auburn vs. Washington State
The Tigers have opened up USC and Georgia Tech in recent years, and the outcome has not been good. Washington State is no USC or Tech, but the Cougars do come from the Pac-10 and would love nothing more than to ruin the Tigers' dreams of a national championship. First-game jitters keeps this one close until the fourth quarterŠ Auburn 28, Washington State 14.
Sept. 9 Mississippi State vs. Auburn
Although Jackie Sherrill was able to get the best of Tommy Tuberville early in his Auburn career, Sylvester Croom has not been as fortunate. The Tigers have run all over the Bulldogs in recent years and with Kenny Irons in the Auburn backfield, that doesn't appear to change anytime soonŠ Auburn 33, Mississippi State 13.
Sept. 16 Auburn vs. LSU
This one's an easy one. The Tigers will win. Determining which Tigers that will be is the hard part. The last two contests between the Tigers of the Plains and the Bayou Bengals have come down to the kicking game and this year, it should be just that close. Recent history shows the SEC Western Division Championship goes through this game and recent history also favors the home teamŠ Auburn 17, LSU 13.
Sept. 23 Auburn vs. Buffalo
This game will take place on Scout/High School Team Day at Jordan-Hare Stadium so maybe Tuberville and staff should suit some of the high school players up to get them an early start. Buffalo surely wouldn't mindŠ Auburn 60, Buffalo 7.
Sept. 28 South Carolina vs. Auburn
After not playing a weeknight game in several seasons, the Tigers return to the ESPN Thursday night lineup in Columbia, S.C., against The Ol' Ball Coach's Gamecocks. Early reports state Spurrier is unsatisfied with his team's preseason work ethic, but history shows he will have them in shape by football season. This one will be much closer than the experts thinkŠ Auburn 23, South Carolina 22.
Oct. 7 Auburn vs. Arkansas
If there is one team the Tigers have had the most trouble with at home since 2000, it would have to be the Razorbacks. Good news for Tuberville, though. Running back Darren McFadden may be the star of the future but Matt Jones is gone and he isn't coming backŠ Auburn 31, Arkansas 17.
Oct. 14 Auburn vs. Florida
The last time Florida visited Jordan-Hare, Tuberville and Co. took down the No. 1 ranked Gators and were 21-point underdogs. Auburn should be the favorite in this contest but Urban Meyer just doesn't have that much luck in the state of AlabamaŠ Auburn 22, Florida 7.
Oct. 21 Auburn vs. Tulane
With Louisiana Tech, Monroe and Lafayette taking an off year as Auburn's homecoming redheaded stepchild, Tuberville had to find a Louisiana substitute. I wonder who will be crowned Miss Homecoming. Not reallyŠ Auburn 40, Tulane 10.
Oct. 28 Ole Miss vs. Auburn
Tuberville's old team will be ready for the Riverboat Gambler with second-year Ole Miss head coach Ed Orgeron finally settling in with his new quarterback, Tennessee transfer Brent Schaffer. Although Schaffer is receiving praise from all over, the last time he faced the Tigers, the Auburn defense brutalized the freshman in Knoxville. This game shouldn't be much differentŠ Auburn 38, Ole Miss 17.
Nov. 4 Auburn vs. Arkansas State
Tuberville will face the school where he first coached collegiately more than 25 years ago and he will show them that although things are bad now, the future can be bright after leaving Arkansas StateŠ Auburn 50, Arkansas State 0.
Nov. 11 Auburn vs. Georgia
The Tigers have gotten the better of the Dawgs in recent years, with several wins coming against great Georgia teams. Mark Richt is quickly establishing himself as one of the premier coaches in the land, but he just can't seem to get the upper hand against Tuberville. History shows the away team usually has the upper hand in this one, but wins on Pat Dye Field must be earnedŠ Georgia 21, Auburn 20.
Nov. 18 Alabama vs. Auburn
The Tigers shocked the Tide with 11 sacks last year and Kenny Irons was one step away from breaking the big one several times. If the Tigers' defense can contain Kenneth Darby and the offense can find ways to stretch the field when Irons doesn't have the ball, Mike Shula will become the first Alabama coach to lose four straight games to the “school down the road”Š Auburn 30, Alabama 20.
With an 11-1 record, the Tigers should be poised to make another SEC Championship Game appearance. A win there could keep the Tigers in the national title hunt, but they will need help along the way.
If the Tigers can keep it together, the sports writer across America owe them one.