Auburn Football: Predicting the Tigers' Biggest Wins for 2012 Season
Auburn is not the best football team in college football this year. No one believes they are, but the Tigers are a feisty group compiled of young talent that will win some of the biggest contests on the schedule during the 2012 season.
This Saturday the Tigers will face off against No. 15 Clemson in Atlanta in the annual Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic game. The game gives Auburn a national stage to start rolling in the big wins for the coming season.
Auburn will face a number of teams ranked in the preseason polls, giving the Tigers ample opportunity to climb the poll ladder this year. These are the five big games that the Tigers will win this year that will mold the success of the Auburn season.
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In Week 1 the Tigers take on longtime rival the Clemson Tigers. Auburn and Clemson share a lot of similarities—from nicknames to former coaches—but on the field they will look like total different teams this year.
Auburn has employed a no-huddle spread offense in years past, but the Tigers are making the move back to a traditional downhill rushing offense this season. Clemson’s offensive coordinator, Chad Morris, developed his offensive scheme from the former Auburn offense—the Gus Malzahn system.
The defenses will be similar in scheme—both Tigers will employ fast attacking, aggressive styles—and both teams will have new defensive coordinators roaming the sidelines in the season’s opener.
The major difference-maker in this game will be the lines on both sides of the ball. Auburn and Clemson have a number of questions along the offensive line, but the Auburn defensive line is very stout. Clemson is not in the same category.
Auburn will use the strength of the defensive line to cause issues in the Clemson backfield and keep the dangerous fast attacking offense out of rhythm. Auburn wins this game with tough defense, and Clemson goes home disappointed.
Mississippi State Bulldogs—9.8
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Surprisingly, this game has been all but handed to the Bulldogs by most national pundits.
The Bulldogs are replacing key members of the offensive line from a year ago, and will replace a lot of talent in the front seven heading into the first SEC contest of the season.
Auburn is traveling to Starkville, but the Tigers will be coming off a big win in Atlanta. The Tigers' game against Clemson will prepare them for a tough contest against the Bulldogs—much more than the Jackson State opener will for Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs will have to battle through the early season kinks against a tough Auburn squad and will not have any leeway to make mistakes.
This may not be a major win for the Tigers in the rankings, but winning this game will open the national minds and put Auburn in the front of the discussion when the SEC is mentioned.
Auburn and Mississippi State traditionally play very tough, close games with this contest likely to follow suit. Auburn will win the contest, marking a big move for the Tigers in the conference and in the national spotlight.
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The Razorbacks have become the third wheel in the SEC conversation this year for good reason. The Razorbacks bring back one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Tyler Wilson and will have a solid offensive line holding back defenders.
The defense has some questions, but overall the Razorbacks will be a very good squad heading into the 2012 season.
Auburn hosts Arkansas in Jordan-Hare Stadium after a big game against LSU to finish September and a bye week that follows.
Arkansas will be making its second road trip in as many weeks, and will have faced a rejuvenated Texas A&M squad prior to visiting Auburn.
Auburn will know where it stands as a team heading into this game with the LSU game providing the Tigers a barometer to judge where it stands nationally. Auburn has not done well against Arkansas in recent years, but Auburn hasn’t been as talented as it is this year in a very long time.
Look for Auburn to step up against the pass with a nasty pass rush and much improved defensive secondary. Auburn will grind out the clock with the rushing attack, further limiting the Arkansas passing attack by keeping it off the field.
This win will be one of the biggest of the season and of Gene Chizik’s tenure at Auburn. A win will mark the growth of a Tigers team that has been pushed to the side in the SEC conversation.
Texas A&M Aggies—10.27
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This will be a huge win for the Tigers to close October. The Aggies will be making their first trip to Jordan-Hare Stadium as newly anointed members of the SEC.
The Aggies are under new management heading into the new season with major adjustments being made both offensively and defensively. The Aggies should be settled into their schemes by this game, but Auburn will be more than prepared for Texas A&M’s visit to the Plains.
Auburn should win this game by a moderate margin. Texas A&M has some talent on roster, but the Aggies lost star power on offense and defense after last season. They do return a very talented offensive line which should suspend a lot of the danger that Auburn will bring with its pass rush.
In the end, the Tigers will have this game at home and will be well developed in their offense and defense by this point in the season. Auburn will win the game with a strategy similar to the one the Tigers will employ early against Clemson—keep the offense off the field.
Auburn will rely on clock management and strong third-down defense to march to victory.
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This will be a huge victory for Auburn if the Tigers can pull it off.
Georgia is expected to be the front-runner in the SEC East and for good reason. The Bulldogs schedule sets up nicely for a big year and Aaron Murray helps the process that has built the Bulldogs SEC aspirations.
Georgia is a strong team this year, but by the Auburn game the Tigers will be a lot more consistent than at the start of the season. The Tigers' experienced front seven will be one of the best in the conference, and facing an offensive line that is replacing at least three starters will favor the Tigers.
Can Auburn score against the strong Georgia defense? That is the question that the Tigers will hope to answer with a resounding "yes."
Georgia’s defense is arguably the best in the conference top-to-bottom, leading to concerns for every offense that will face the Bulldogs' 3-4 scheme this fall.
The strong point for Georgia is the fast attacking linebacker corps and the dangerous secondary. If Auburn can develop its rushing attack as expected by this game, Auburn will march to a victory on the Plains by avoiding the defensive secondary’s playmaking ability, and running past the Bulldogs as they charge up-field.
This looks to be the premier win for the Tigers during the 2012 season.