Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Auburn Realist: Waaaay to Early Predictions for 2014 Part 3

The Auburn Realist

You can find links to all of my Auburn Realist Blog posts here.
The Auburn Realist: Overview

In case you missed our Waaaayyy Too Early Predictions for the first 1/3 of the season, take some time to go read it. Then make a comment or two!

Then, go read Waaaayyy Too Early Predictions Part 2. 

So, here we are.  Amen Corner. I admit that I hate that expression. 

So, we enter November undefeated (hopefully). I admit that I don't think the Tigers will go undefeated, regardless of what I write in this post. I do feel like they will loose 1 game before they get to Tuscaloosa. Yet, I can't put a finger on it. I want to say it's LSU, but they will still be breaking in a new QB, they have lost a couple of big time receivers and backs including Beckham and Hill. But, LSU has owned Auburn over the last 10 years. It is what it is, I guess. 

Nov. 15 at Georgia Athens, GA
Nov. 29 at Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL 

Aside from the game on the 22nd, November is a rough month. 

The Aggies will visit Auburn in the first game of November. I am sure we all recall what happened the last time this team came to town. I can attest that it is one of the few games that I never even attempted to watch or listen to. I am might glad I didn't. In fact, in the preseason of 2012, I was really looking forward to seeing the first SEC West matchup between these two teams. But, as the season got underway (namely, the loss to Vandy) I decided to unload my  tickets for a good sum of money. I assume to a TAMU fan. 

The biggest question surrounding the TAMU program is obviously who replaces Jonny Football. Though the did have a string of seemingly SEC ready QBs ready to compete, the list gets shorter every day it seems as Joekel left the fold just last week. Then Seals-Jones gets the boot, whom many people figured would be the safety blanket of a new QB. Perhaps the biggest question is, how will TAMU fare without a proven running back? Not that a running back has been a significant portion of the offense in the first two years under Sumlin, because it hasn't. But, if a new QB doesn't have a game breaking receiver a la Evans or a proven offensive line (who has lost top rounders in back to back years), how will the new QB survive. Sure, it's always possible that the next big name really is The Next Big Name. Face it, TAMU has brought in two back to back NASTY classes of athletes. 

But, we have seen both sides of that coin. Honestly, only Alabama has proven to take the highest quality recruits and transmit that into immediate and lasting success. TAMU has already have significant issues with maintain order as it is. Can Sumlin balance the high risk vs high reward that comes with this caliber athlete? My spider senses say no. 

This is going to be a battle of offenses. Heck, this game would be more interesting if the two offenses lined up against each other. Though Sumlin has said that the defense has made big strides, that isn't saying much. His defenses have been deplorable and one year simply can't and won't make that much difference.  Add into the fact that only Auburn's defense will make a real step forward in improvement. Auburn's defense really came to life against TAMU last year, perhaps because they were playing against an offense that was similar in speed. Auburn's D-line shut down TAMU, even with Jonny at the helm. This year won't be any different. Add that they play in Jordan-Hare against a fired up crowd and you will have a great game that won't really be close in the 4th.
Auburn 37-TAMU 17

Nov. 15 at Georgia Athens, GA
I am proud to say that I was at the Prayer in Jordan-Hare. It was one of those moments you will never forget. Though the series is almost perfectly even, overall (Auburn 55-54) and even the last 10 years have been fairly even (6-4 Georgia), it's worth noting that Georgia has owned Auburn outside of the magic years of 2004, 2010, and 2013. In fact, Auburn has one only one game at Athens in the last 10 years, that game in 2005.

Obviously, the biggest question the Dawgs will face will be the replacement of Murray. But, luckily for them, they have an extremely potent running attack...if not the best in Gurley and Marshall. Very much like TAMU, a lot depends on the quarterback play, though at least they have a QB with a few reps under his belt in Mason. He has, by all accounts, done everything to be a winner at UGA, though he will probably never surpass the shadow of Murray. That could either work perfectly or terribly for the dogs. Mason does have a set of capable returning receivers in Conley and Bennet. 

Richt is assuredly on the hot seat, as he is every year it seems.  Will his defense take a step forward and regain the elite status that it had held for so long? Offensively, the Dawgs will be fine and extremely balanced. But, will the defense be able to stop what will prove to be the best offense in college football? This game is perhaps the biggest chance for someone to knock off Auburn, especially coming off of a quality SEC West win the week before. With the game being in Athens, where Auburn has had some many problems and the chance to even the overall series, I have to admit that I see UGA pulling off a huge win. Now, don't be surprised if I change my thinking once the season starts, because I can totally see Auburn having ZERO trouble with UGA with a much improved defense. 
Georgia 31 Auburn 27

This will probably be a sloppy game. Auburn won't gameplan for these guys and will spend what little time the starters play in fixing the mistakes of the previous week in Athens. Additionally, with Bama on the horizon, great care will be given to rest starters. 
Auburn 45-Samford 10