Auburn Football 2010: What Is the Tigers' Most Difficult Game?
Auburn is currently only nine days away from their season opener, and the college football season begins in one short week.
As the 2010 season approaches, let's take a look at Auburn's entire schedule - from the easiest game to the most difficult one.
As always, comment and let me know if you agree or disagree. It's more difficult to decide between teams than you might think.
12 - UT-Chattanooga
Homecoming at Auburn is generally the easiest game on the schedule. It's a nice change of pace in the middle of a grueling SEC schedule.
Obviously, in modern-day college football, you can't overlook anybody or they can come up and beat you. But I think Auburn will be able to handle this one on November 6th.
11 - Louisiana Monroe
The ULM Warhawks make another appearance on the Auburn football schedule. ULM is 0-7 all time against Auburn, including a 34-0 defeat in their last meeting in 2008. Photo is courtesy of the War Eagle reader, by the way, from the first play from scrimmage of the 2008 season opener.
New head coach Todd Berry will struggle to get his team ready to come into Jordan-Hare Stadium in week five. Either Auburn will have a ton of momentum from a great September, or they will be angry about a couple of early losses and will look to take it out on ULM.
Either way, Auburn should handle this non-conference tilt.
10 - Arkansas State
There are always a ton of unknowns going into the season opener. That's the only reason this game might be more difficult than the ULM game.
If either side of the ball isn't ready to go on September 4th, underdogs like Arkansas State can hang around and make things interesting. But Auburn should feel pretty comfortable.
Arkansas State went 4-8 last season and has a new offense. Going into Jordan Hare will be a challenge, especially with all the positive momentum around the Auburn program right now. Go ahead and mark a win down.
9 - @ Kentucky
This will be one of many revenge games for Auburn this season. Kentucky should not be taken lightly, especially on the road.
This is a program that has been to four straight bowl games. Rich Brooks left an extremely solid foundation for Joker Phillips to win football games. Randall Cobb and company will be trying to move up in the SEC East this year.
However, it ranks as the easiest conference game, because as SEC road venues go, Kentucky is manageable. The revenge factor is too much to ignore as well. It won't be easy, but Auburn will be favored to go to Lexington and win.
8 - @ Ole Miss
Jeremiah Masoli made this game a lot more interesting.
Ole Miss was picked last in the SEC West, which is really more of a statement of how good the West should be than how "bad" Ole Miss is. Their front seven is as good as anyone's, and Houston Nutt is great at surprising in supposedly down years.
Masoli gives the Rebels a big time option at quarterback. Auburn will have to be solid in their assignments defensively to contain the Rebels. Going on the road is always tough, but this is a game Auburn should win if they expect to make noise in the SEC.
7 - South Carolina
This is supposed to be South Carolina's breakout season. But nothing is going as planned thus far.
True freshman Connor Shaw has earned a chance at sharing playing time with veteran Stephen Garcia. Star tight end Weslye Saunders and other players are being investigated by the NCAA.
But Steve Spurrier likes this team. The defense is always solid, and if they can find consistency on offense, they can make a run in the SEC East. This will be a crucial game at the end of September for both teams.
6 - Clemson
The week before the South Carolina game, Clemson comes to Auburn for an ESPN primetime matchup. Quarterback Kyle Parker returns to try and help the offense improve.
This is a key non-conference game for both teams. It is a rematch of the 2007 Chick-fil-A Bowl, which Auburn won in overtime. Since it is the first big home game of the season, Auburn fans and players should be ready. But this game will be a tough one.
5 - @ Mississippi State
Some might be surprised at how difficult I see this game, but college football is all about attitude. Mississippi State has had this game circled since the end of last season.
It's a Thursday night, national television game on ESPN. The national spotlight will be on Starkville and the progress that Dan Mullen has made. If the Bulldogs want to make a move in the SEC West, they must win this game.
With the cowbells ringing and all that motivation for Mississippi State, Auburn will have to find a way to bring confidence and energy on the road only five days after the season opener. Auburn still has an edge in talent, but this game has upset written all over it.
4 - LSU
It's always a battle when LSU and Auburn get together. Last year, LSU physically manhandled Auburn and delivered the first blowout in the series in six years.
This year, the game should be much more competitive. LSU has a lot of questions to answer, mostly on offense. Most importantly, can Jordan Jefferson revive the LSU offense?
Auburn hasn't beaten LSU since 2006. Weird things always seem to happen in this series. To beat LSU, the offense will have to find a way to move the ball against an always talented LSU defense, including star cornerback Patrick Peterson.
3 - Arkansas
Arkansas has seemed to have Auburn's number for the last couple of decades. Ever since the Razorbacks moved into the SEC, they have delivered some tough losses to the Tigers.
This year, Ryan Mallett has an absolutely explosive offense poised to take the SEC West. The defense has to improve, however. Arkansas played one of their better games defensively against Auburn last year.
Gus Malzahn will need to score and score often to beat Arkansas in 2010. The game is at Jordan Hare, which helps. But the defense will need to force some turnovers to interrupt the rhythm of Bobby Petrino's offense.
2 - Georgia
Georgia has won four in a row in the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry, including a 31-24 win last season at Sanford Stadium. Auburn was unable to hold onto an early 14-0 lead.
New quarterback Aaron Murray has a ton of talent around him, like wide receiver A.J. Green and running Washaun Ealey. The defense is new under Todd Grantham and will need to improve to make a run at Florida in the SEC East.
There's usually a home field disadvantage in this series, but Auburn will try to reverse that this season. This game could be the equivalent of a playoff game for Auburn - a win might take them to the Iron Bowl with a chance at Atlanta, while a loss might take them out of contention.
Georgia has simply found ways to win in this series of late. Auburn has had a tough time finishing against Georgia, which is why they are so high on the list.
1 - @ Alabama
Well, this was obvious. The defending national champions and the most bitter rivals are definitely the toughest game on the 2010 schedule.
Alabama is completely loaded on offense. McElroy, Ingram, Richardson, and Julio Jones are poised to lead Alabama back to the SEC title game. The defense must replace nine starters, but has a ton of inexperienced talent waiting to get their shot.
Auburn proved they could play with Alabama in 2009, nearly pulling the upset. But that was at home. Going to Tuscaloosa will be very difficult, especially if the SEC West is on the line.
No matter the circumstances, this road trip will require Auburn to play their best game to have a chance to win. Like last year, it should be another chance to make a statement to the country that Auburn is on the way back.