Here we go, we’re finally into the “real teams.” From here on out, no more programs from these four categories: a.) good, although obscure mid-major program
b.) BcS conference team that has fallen from grace
c.) college basketball powerhouse where college football is an overlooked afterthought.
d.) big glut of ACC mediocrity and Big East below average junk.
Because that’s what the 70s, 60s, and 50s are all about in the 77 in 77s. But from now on, it’s looking up. So may wonder, what are the defending national champion Auburn Tigers doing here down this low? Well, out of 22 starters on both sides of the ball, they return 5. Yes, a whopping five. They have to break in 3/4 of a new secondary, pretty much an entire new OL and receiving corps. And replace Nick Fairley, the most dominating DL in football last year and quarterback Cam Newton, the #1 overall pick/Heisman Trophy…so uhm yeah, this is a rebuilding year.
For the Auburn Tigers basketball season preview go here
2010 was: You probably know.
BMOCs: QB derby is between Clint Moseley and Barrett Trotter. But freshman phenom Kiehl Frazier could be the x factor. The new offense will be centered around RBs Onterrio McCalebb (does your last name really need that extra b? Seriously, isn’t one b enough?) and Michael Dyer. DE Corey Lemonier, DE Nosa Equae
Sometimes stats do indeed lie. On D Auburn was an awful 108th against the pass, a very pedestrian 53rd in scoring. But that’s very misleading. They gave up a lot of points and yards through the air in garbage time. They went 14-0 and beat up a lot of opponents early, so their foes had no choice but to bomb away against the Tigers’ second and third team defense, while the starters rest.
Also, when you’re a Heisman trophy/national title winning/#1 overall pick QB, usually the offense you pilot should finish higher than 66th in passing.
2011 will be fruitful if: the defense comes together, in a very big way, and the stereotypical “rebuilding year” defies all the usual circumstances that surround that cliche. Most publications predict them to finish fifth in the SEC West, so there’s plenty of critics to silence.
2011 will be awful if: the NCAA investigations continue; and turn up more dirt. And of course sanction the university for said dirt. The 2010 national title could be fool’s gold for AU in the long run? Think USC as your worst case scenario. Not getting in trouble is this year’s biggest priority. But have fun with the snarky graphic and the inaccurate reporting of the BR screen grab below.
Bottom Line: Getting to 7-5 or better with this rougher schedule and in the SEC in general will be tough, but if AU’s passing game can help balance what should be a decent run game, easing the pressure of breaking in an almost brand new defense, they should go back to a bowl. The last two recruiting classes have been stellar, and everyone thinks offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn is a genius. He’s got his work cut out for him in 2011.
AU Rankings: #24 Athlon, #34 Lindy’s, #33 Phil Steele
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Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site that generates millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports You can follow him on TwitterFollow paulmbanks