The sky seems to be the limit for Auburn Tiger football this season. As of right now, we are exactly 11 days away from Auburn's first game against the Sun Belt's Arkansas State Red Wolves, a team Auburn is favored to beat by 30.5 points.
This close to the season, Tiger fans wonder how high the Tigers can go this season. They are the No. 22 team in the AP Poll, and expect to go nowhere but up as the season moves on. Outside of the Iron Bowl, Auburn plays every toss-up game in the comfort of Jordan-Hare Stadium.
So, to get to the point of the article: What's the best and worst case scenarios for the Auburn Tigers? Also, what bowl will they land in?
Best Case: Tostitos BCS National Championship Game (Glendale, Arizona)
All they have to do is win every game on the schedule. 2004 wouldn't happen again if the Tigers started 13-0, because now, the SEC is viewed as the best conference in the land. The Tigers have the schedule to begin 12-0 (Which would give Chizik a 25-24 record as a head coach, much to the irony of the heckler). Clemson, South Carolina, Arkansas, LSU, and Georgia all visit Jordan-Hare. An 11-0 start is more likely than some want to admit. A win in Tuscaloosa could catipult the Tigers to their first #1 ranking since 1985. Take care of business in the SEC Title Game, and the Tigers find themselves in Arizona battling for their 2nd (or 3rd) National Championship in school history.
Worst Case: Chick-Fil-A Bowl (Atlanta, Georgia)
To be in this bowl, AU would probably have to go 8-4 at best. That likely means a loss to Alabama, some disappointing losses at home, or some stunning upsets on the road, possibly on Thursday night in Starkville. 8-4 would be considered a big disappointment for 2010, a year when AU is in position for a title run, as mentioned above. In a year of "Eight Ain't It", if the Tigers win 8 games, then they know they let themselves down.
Next best thing: Allstate Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, Louisiana)
You can't deny: If the Tigers can't reach Glendale, then getting to the Sugar Bowl would be a huge, no, titanic second season for Gene Chizik. To be in this bowl, the Tigers can go 12-0 in the regular season and lose the SEC Title Game, go 11-1 and win the SEC Title (behind 2 BCS conference unbeatens), or go 11-1 and sneak in as an At-Large, go 10-2 and sneak in as an At-Large/SEC Runner-Up/SEC Champion. AU has the talent and the coaching to return to the BCS, and considering the Sugar Bowl usually featues the SEC against an at-large team (usually non-AQ), AU should win. The Sugar Bowl trophy isn't exactly a bad one to have in the trophy case. Not to mention that is Cameron Newton returns, if everything falls into place just right, the Sugar Bowl win could provide AU enough momentum to begin 2011 as the No. 1 team in the land.
Other Bowl Options: AT&T Cotton Bowl, Capital One Bowl, Gator Bowl
While none of these are bad bowls in any matter, they are not BCS Bowls. But then again, Auburn would have to break through for its best-case scenarios, and so few teams actually make the BCS, including just two from the SEC, who also boasts Alabama, Florida, LSU, Georgia, and Arkansas. The Cotton Bowl or Capital One Bowl are bowls you could reach with 10 wins, so these bowl appearances would show solid improvement under Chizik and keep the momentum rolling. The Gator Bowl is probably in the same boat with the Chick-Fil-A Bowl: It's a traditional bowl, no doubt, but if the Tigers find themself in this game, the season can be claimed as a disappointment.
What do you believe? Remember, both Oklahoma and Ohio State last decade won titles in their coaches' second year following a 7-5 record. So where will Auburn be bowling? Will they find themselves in the Georgia Dome for the reason they don't want to be there, or will they hoist up the crystal ball in the greatest season Auburn University has ever seen?
One thing is for sure: It's college football. It's unpredictable.