Auburn Football: Tigers Will Use Home-Field Advantage for Upsets

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2012

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 10: A general view of the stadium during a game between the Auburn Tigers and Mississippi State Bulldogs on September 10, 2011 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images)
Butch Dill/Getty Images

Three ranked SEC teams visit Jordan-Hare Stadium in the fall, so the Auburn Tigers will use home-field advantage in order to pull off upsets.

When USA Today released its preseason college football rankings on Thursday, Auburn got a feel of how difficult their schedule will be. The Tigers were ranked No. 25 in the poll, but they will look to avoid another disappointing season.

Last season, the team entered the season ranked No. 23, but started the season poorly. The team lost five games and finished the year unranked.

The Tigers have a realistic shot of winning eight or nine games in 2012, but they will need to pull off a few upsets. Five of the team's games are against teams ranked in the Top 15, but two other teams may enter the rankings at some point during the season.

The team's home schedule is loaded with ranked teams with No. 1 LSU, No. 6 Georgia and No. 10 Arkansas visiting Auburn this fall. 

Can Auburn knock off any of these teams? The team allowed 45 to both LSU and Georgia last season while getting blown out.

The key for the Tigers will be to control the tempo and give the football to their star back. Running back Onterio McCalebb will be the difference maker for the team this fall.

McCalebb is a versatile back and can change the game in different ways. In 2010, he averaged 8.5 yards per carry when Cam Newton was the quarterback.

Kiehl Frazier is also a mobile quarterback, so Auburn could go back to an option attack. McCalebb will help Frazier adjust to the starting role and help Auburn compete in the SEC.

LSU was No. 1 for most of last season and they will begin this season as the preseason favorites. The team will need to feed off the crowd in order to have any chance at an upset. LSU has more talent than Auburn, but road games are always a challenge in college football.

Georgia got hot at the right time last season on its way to the SEC title game. The Bulldogs ran all over the Tigers, so the defense will need to make an adjustment this season. The offense will help the defense by running the ball with McCalebb and give them a break.

The two teams meet near the end of the season again, and Auburn will be battling to get into a good bowl game. The Tigers should have at least seven wins coming into the game, so the team could be playing for a spot in a good bowl.

Against Arkansas the team did extremely well on the ground. They managed to rush for almost 300 yards, but their passing attack barely topped 100 yards. The passing attack will need to be much better in the next meeting, but running the ball will allow the team to consistently move the football.

The defense needs to be better as well, but they did show signs of improvement in the second half of the game. In the first half, they allowed the Razorbacks to drive down the length of the field several times and score. The defense did better when Arkansas was not as aggressive in the second half.

The SEC is known as the nation's toughest conference, and upsets happen when ranked teams play on the road. Auburn got lucky by playing its toughest games at home (besides Alabama).

The Tigers will need to take advantage of playing at home and pull off a few upsets at Jordan-Hare Stadium.