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College Football Predictions: No. 20 Auburn Tigers

There were questions whether Bryan Harsin would remain the head coach at Auburn after a disappointing 6-7 season. Now, expectations have the Tigers finishing in the range of six or seven wins again.

Gene Chizik was 30-10 in his first three seasons at Auburn and led the Tigers to the 2010 national title. However, two years after a perfect 14-0 season, Chizik was let go following a 3-9 season. Back-to-back losing seasons in his first two years at Auburn might be too much for Harsin to overcome.

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The big question on the playing field is how the offense will look now that three-year starting quarterback Bo Nix is at Oregon. Zach Calzada comes in from Texas A&M and he had similar stats in 2021 to what Nix put up with the Tigers.

Auburn added some key transfers but also saw quite a few players head off to other programs. That could be a problem, especially with the Tigers having recruiting classes ranked seventh and ninth among SEC programs over the last two years.

Auburn (+4000) is tied for sixth in the odds to win the SEC title according to the college football odds. The odds moved from +6600 a couple of months ago. The Tigers (+110) are tied for the sixth best odds to win the SEC West Division title.

The Tigers (+20000) are tied for 32nd in the NCAA football odds to win the national championship.

Auburn Tigers

  • 2021 record: 6-7
  • 2021 conference record: 3-5
  • Head coach: Bryan Harsin
  • Odds to win conference title: +475

Leading rusher Tank Bigsby is back after rushing for 1,099 yards and 10 touchdowns. Bigsby had five 100-yard rushing games a season ago to go with 21 receptions. He should be primed for a huge year. Jarquez Hunter (593 rushing yards, 6.7 yards per carry) is also back. Shaun Shivers, who had 22 carries and 14 receptions in 2021, has transferred to Indiana.

Leading receiver Kobe Hudson has transferred to UCF. Shedrick Jackson (40 catches, 527 yards) is the top returning pass catcher. Tight end John Samuel Shenker (33 catches, 413 yards). Receiver Ja’Varrius Johnson and tight end Tyler Fromm will also be back. Johnson entered the transfer portal but opted to stay at Auburn. Koy Moore and Dazalin Worsham come in from LSU and Miami to offer more options at wide receiver.

Offensive linemen Nick Brahms, Keiondre Jones and Kilian Zierer are back after starting for the Tigers.

Auburn loses its top three tacklers – linebackers Zakoby McClain and Chandler Wooten as well as safety Smoke Monday. Cornerback Roger McCreary, a second-round pick by the Tennessee Titans in April’s NFL draft, is another key loss on the defensive side of the ball.

Having standout linebacker Owen Pappoe for more than five games should help the defense. He had 93 tackles during the 2020 season and could approach that total in 2022.

Top pass rushers Colby Wooden (61 tackles, five sacks) and Derick Hall (54 tackles, 12½ tackles for loss, nine sacks) are other top returnees on defense. Safeties Zion Puckett and Donovan Kaufman also return. Cornerbacks Jaylin Simpson and Nehemiah Puckett as well as defensive lineman Marcus Harris could have larger roles in 2022.

Auburn added cornerback DJ James (46 tackles, two interceptions, four pass breakups) and defensive lineman Jayson Jones from Oregon, linebacker Eugene Asante (23 tackles) from North Carolina and safety Craig McDonald (41 tackles, two interceptions) from Iowa State. However, 14 defensive players transferred. That list includes defensive lineman J.J. Pegues and safety Ladarius Tennison, who are both at Ole Miss. Linebacker Romello Height transferred to Southern California while cornerback Ro Torrence and defensive lineman Dre Butler are now at Arizona State and Liberty.

Anders Carlson, who was 14 of 21 on field goals a season ago, and Oscar Chapman (44.1 yards per punt in 2021) both return. Pritchett averaged nearly 30 yards on kickoff returns.

2022 Auburn Outlook

Auburn lost its last three games of 2021 by a combined total of 10 points. The toughest of those defeats was a 24-22 loss to rival Alabama. The Tigers had a seven-point lead and the ball in Alabama territory with less than two minutes to play, only to give up the tying touchdown with 24 seconds to play in the fourth quarter. Alabama would win the game in overtime.

Auburn was ninth in total defense and 10th in total offense a season ago so improvement is needed on both sides of the ball.

Auburn opens the season with five consecutive games at home. However, when the Tigers do hit the road things, will get interesting with a matchup against defending national champion Georgia followed a week later by a road contest against Ole Miss.

A Week 3 game against Penn State figures to be the toughest of the non-conference games for the Tigers.

Auburn has a projected regular-season win total of 6½, according to the college football lines, with the odds at -155 for the Tigers to go under that total and +125 to finish over.

Something for those who bet online to ponder: Auburn failed to cover in four of its last five games, with five of the last six contests finishing under the total.

Take a Look at Other 2 NCAAF Special Articles for The Upcoming Season

2022 Auburn Schedule

  • Sep. 3 vs Mercer
  • Sep. 10 vs San Jose State
  • Sep. 17 vs Penn State
  • Sep. 24 vs Missouri
  • Oct. 1 vs Louisiana State
  • Oct. 8 vs Georgia
  • Oct. 15 vs Ole Miss
  • Oct. 29 vs Arkansas
  • Nov. 5 vs Mississippi State
  • Nov. 12 vs Texas A&M
  • Nov. 19 vs Western Kentucky
  • Nov. 26 vs Alabama

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