After winning the national championship, it is difficult to convince your fanbase that anything less is a success. The Auburn Tigers come into the 2011 season poised to remain amongst the SEC elite and compete for both the SEC title and the BCS championship.
Though the team has lost Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and presumed top-10 pick Nick Fairley, there is no rebuilding in the SEC—only reloading.
With the third- and fourth-best recruiting classes in 2010 and 2011 respectively, Gene Chizik and the rest of the Auburn coaching staff are prepared to take the Tigers into battle against some of the nation's best.
Here is a breakdown of the Auburn Tigers' 2011 schedule, game by game...
When: September 3, 2011
2010 Record: 4-8
Analysis: The first game of the season should be a good tuneup for Auburn. Utah State did give Oklahoma a good first game of the 2010 season, but it does not stand as a threatening opponent.
This could be a trap game if the Tigers do not come prepared, as Utah State played tough against ranked teams last season.
Prediction: 38-17 (Auburn)
When: September 10, 2011
2010 Record: 9-4 (4-4)
Analysis: MSU gave Auburn a good game last year, losing 17-14. This will be the team's first real test and a chance for quarterback Barrett Trotter to assert himself early as the team leader. Auburn will have to stop a good rushing attack and get past a team that could be better this year.
Prediction: 28-13 (Auburn)
When: September 17, 2011
2010 Record: 6-7
Analysis: This is Auburn's first road game. The loss of Da'Quan Bowers is a huge one for Clemson, which finished 13th in the country in points against. Auburn won last year's game in overtime 27-24; the biggest difference is no Cam Newton. This should be a battle of inexperienced quarterbacks.
Prediction: 30-24 (Auburn)
When: September 24, 2011
2010 Record: 4-8
Analysis: Hailing from the Sun Belt Conference, Florida Atlantic does not have the ability to hang with a team like Auburn. By this time, the offensive line and the offense should be coming together and beginning to click. This is the last tuneup game before things start getting very tough.
Prediction: 45-10 (Auburn)
When: October 1, 2011
2010 Record: 9-5 (5-3)
Analysis: Auburn defeated the Gamecocks twice last year and is going for three in a row during their Week 5 matchup. Stephen Garcia returns for his senior season and looks to take his revenge on the Tigers. This will be a tight game that Auburn just cannot overcome on the road.
Prediction: 24-20 (South Carolina)
When: October 8, 2011
2010 Record: 10-3 (6-2)
Analysis: Last year's 65-43 defeat of the Razorbacks came as no surprise. Bobby Petrino likes to air the ball out and hopefully outscore the other team. Without Ryan Mallett, the team will not be as efficient through the passing game, where it was fourth-best in the nation. Another tough road game for Auburn, but this time it gets the win.
Prediction: 48-37 (Auburn)
When: October 15, 2011
2010 Record: 8-5 (4-4)
Analysis: With a new coach, Florida will certainly be facing new challenges as a team. It had a disappointing season in 2010 and will look to bounce back. This is a big year, and this is a big game for John Brantley. This will be another disappointing game for the Gators, as Auburn wins a close one at home.
Prediction: 27-21 (Auburn)
When: October 22, 2011
2010 Record: 11-2 (6-2)
Analysis: LSU finished right below Auburn in the SEC West in 2010. Its only losses came against Auburn and Arkansas, both times losing in one-possession games. With Jordan Jefferson poised for another great season, Auburn will have to play a perfect game to beat the Tigers in Baton Rouge. Don't forget, Auburn has not won in LSU since 1999. Advantage LSU.
Prediction: 21-17 (LSU)
When: October 29, 2011
2010 Record: 4-8 (1-7)
Analysis: A 2010 last-place finish in the SEC West does not bode well for optimism in 2011. Auburn is at home, and after a brutal four-game stretch, it will be loving the home crowd and a Tiger victory.
Prediction: 30-13 (Auburn)
When: November 12, 2011
2010 Record: 6-7 (3-5)
Analysis: Aaron Murray is now in his second season, and he is letting the whole world know that he is ready to join the nation's elite. Auburn comes off its bye week ready to put it all out on the field against what many believe will be an improved Georgia team. Hard to believe Auburn goes on the road and takes down a team that will be dealing with the easiest part of its schedule.
Prediction: 27-17 (Georgia)
When: November 19, 2011
2010 Record: 4-7
Analysis: A pushover game before Alabama the next week. Should be an easy victory.
Prediction: 52-10 (Auburn)
When: November 26, 2011
2010 Record: 10-3 (5-3)
Analysis: A very disappointing 2010 season for the Crimson Tide, who had national championship or bust plans. Cam Newton led Auburn to victory seemingly on his own, as the Tigers beat the Tide 28-27. Alabama will be looking for revenge in this game, though it will be without Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, Greg McElroy and Marcell Dareus, who either booked it for the NFL draft or graduated, in McElroy's case.
Being played in Auburn, this is a different game from last year but has the same SEC West championship implications. Auburn wins it in a tight one.
Prediction: 24-21 (Auburn)
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