Auburn Football: 7 Reasons the Tigers Will Be Back in BCS Title Hunt in 2012
In 2010, Auburn University won its second national championship in the school's storied football history.
Although the young Auburn Tigers have stubbed their toe a few times this year in the rigorous SEC West, don't expect the Tigers to stay uncompetitive for too long.
The only recognized national championships for Auburn are 1957 and 2010. However, the Tigers are currently the only team from a BCS conference who have produced three undefeated seasons in the last 20 years.
In 1993, they went a perfect 11-0, but were on probation and were bowl ineligible. In 2004, Auburn finished a perfect 13-0, but were on the outside looking in when the final BCS standings were released.
Even though the 2011 version of the Tigers aren't currently involved in any BCS title discussions, expect the Tigers to be back in the hunt in 2012 as they make a run at a fourth undefeated campaign since 1993.
Auburn Is Currently the Youngest Team in the Football Bowl Subdivision
The Auburn starters' and second stringers' combined average age is 120th out of 120 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Auburn has four seniors who start and four who play on the second string as well. The Tigers also have four freshmen starters but 12 freshmen that play on the second string.
These numbers reflect the relentless recruiting efforts of coach Gene Chizik combined with the empty cupboard that the previous coach left him. Either way, better days lie ahead for the young Tigers.
Opener vs Clemson in Atlanta Will Catapult Season
The winners of the Auburn versus Clemson game have used their emotional victories to catapult their respected teams in each of the last two seasons.
When the Tigers of Auburn were trailing Clemson 17-0 in the second quarter in September of 2010, not many people who weren't standing on the Auburn sideline thought they had much of a chance to still win that game, let alone every game for the rest of the season.
The SEC's Tigers came back and won in dramatic fashion in overtime, and the rest was history.
This season, the Tigers of Clemson were trailing by 14 at home vs the Tigers of the SEC. Clemson made a dramatic comeback and is currently undefeated and in the top five of the BCS standings.
Next year, the two teams have the grudge match in Atlanta on the first weekend of the season in a game which could make or break the year for both teams. An early win at a neutral site for Auburn could set the tone for its second title run in three years.
Auburn Might Play in the SEC East Starting Next Season
There is a very strong chance that Auburn will be in the SEC East for the 2012 season.
Texas A&M officially became the newest member of the SEC last month, giving the conference a presence in the state of Texas. That means the SEC currently has 13 teams and will need to find a 14th member to balance out the SEC East and West.
It has been speculated that Florida State, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Clemson or West Virginia could become the 14th member, but there has been nothing so far to validate any of those possibilities.
Last week, when governing curators at Missouri gave Chancellor Brady Dean the authority to move the school out of the Big 12 if he decides that it is in the school's best interest, Missouri became the front-runner in the SEC expansion sweepstakes.
If Missouri does indeed become the conference's 14th member (and its third team nicknamed the Tigers), then geographic logic would put Auburn in the SEC East.
Although I'm sure the league will keep the Iron Bowl rivalry intact, replacing LSU and Arkansas with Vanderbilt and Kentucky would give the Auburn Tigers an easier path to an undefeated season on a yearly basis.
The Schedule Will Resemble 2010
Before Cam Newton ever played a down during his Heisman campaign at Auburn, several college football magazines and television talking heads were predicting Auburn to have a record of 11-0 heading into Tuscaloosa versus Alabama in late November of 2010.
That was based solely on the Tigers schedule.
Auburn had Arkansas, LSU, Clemson and Georgia all at home, which meant that they would be favored to win all the difficult games leading into the epic showdown in Tuscaloosa versus Alabama.
This year, the tables were turned and the Auburn Tigers had to travel to places like Fayetteville and Baton Rouge. The trips were highly forgettable.
If Auburn is in fact a member of the SEC East next year, then it won't necessarily play all of its former SEC West rivals. However, if the Tigers do have Arkansas or LSU on the schedule, they will most likely get them at home.
Auburn Could Have Two 1000 Yard Rushers
Onterio McCalebb and Michael Dyer could each go over 1,000 yards next year.
Behind the two stars at running back, the Tigers also have a crop of current freshmen tailbacks who could put up some crooked numbers next year as well.
If Kiehl Frazier is running the show at QB, opposing defensive coordinators will have to prepare for three Tigers that can take the ball to the house at any time.
Auburn Will Have a Premier Quarterback Once Again
Although LSU and Alabama have had success this year using multiple quarterbacks, I think most Auburn fans preferred the days of Cam being the man behind center rather than using an uncertain, multiple quarterback attack.
Kiehl Frazier was the fifth-rated quarterback on Rivals.com for the 2011 class, and the experience he is getting as a true freshman this year will weigh heavily in his favor when he competes for the starting job in 2012.
However, the fourth-rated quarterback for the upcoming 2012 class, 6'5", 220-lb Zeke Pike, could give Frazier a run for his money.
Either way, the Tigers will have a dual threat talent taking snaps behind center in 2012.
Gene Chizik Is Putting Together Another Top 10 Recruiting Class
The instant success of Gene Chizik at Auburn makes it hard to believe that this is only his third season on the plains.
And although Tommy Tuberville won a big game in Norman, Oklahoma this past weekend, he didn't win many recruiting battles during his last couple seasons at Auburn.
Gene Chizik has put together top 10 recruiting classes in each of his first three seasons at Auburn, and currently the Tigers have the eighth-ranked recruiting class on the ESPNU Top 150 and No. 10 on Rivals.com for the projected 2012 classes.
Next year will be Chizik's fourth year at the helm for Auburn, and four years of top notch talent could all come together and produce wins every week of the season.