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Predicting the 2021 SEC Football Season: Auburn Tigers

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The Gus Bus made its final stop after eight years. But is Bryan Harsin just a Mountain Time Zone version of Malzahn?

Auburn vs Alabama
Nobody could catch Devonta Smith in 2020.
Photo by UA Athletics/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

GAME 12: AUBURN TIGERS

Installment number eight is the rebuild in Lee County.

Coach: Bryan Harsin (69–19 seven years at Boise, one at Arky State; first season at Auburn)

2020 record: 6-5 (6-4 in SEC, 3rd in the West Division, lost to Northwestern in the Citrus Bowl)

CB969 2020 Prediction: 6-4This team won’t be bad but they won’t be great either. As per usual, they’re somewhere in the middle.

Looking back: The Tigers had a rocky beginning, starting the season 2-2 including handing South Carolina one of their two wins for the season. The good feelings of a three game win streak over Ole Miss, LSU and Tennessee was crushed by an obliteration by the Crimson Tide 42-13. The season was capped by an embarrassing 16-point defeat to Northwestern in the Citrus Bowl.

Returning starters: 8 on offense, 7 on defense, punter, kicker.

Key losses: WR Anthony Schwartz (Round 3, Pick 28 Browns), SAF Jamien Sherwood (Round 5, Jets), LB K.J. Britt (Round 5, Buccaneers), WR Seth Williams (Round 6, Broncos), S/PR Christian Tutt (left early, undrafted, unsigned), WR/KR Eli Stove, S Jordyn Peters, starting DL Tyrone Truesdell (M.I.A.), starting DL Markaviest Bryant (transfer to UCF), DE Jaren Handy (Indiana), RB D.J. Williams (FSU), DC Kevin Steele.

Top returnees: RB Tank Bigsby, PK Anders Carlson, QB Bo Nix, RB Shaun Shivers, C Nick Brahms, LB Owen Pappoe, CB Roger McCreary, S Smoke Monday, DE Zykeivous Walker, WR Ze’Vian Capers, TE John Samuel Shenker, CB Nehemiah Pritchett, DE Colby Wooden.

Top newcomers: projected STAR starter Donovan Kaufman (from Vanderbilt), projected WR starter Demetris Robertson (from UGA), EDGE Eku Leota (Northwestern), CB Dreshun Miller (West Virginia), DL Tony Fair (UAB), EDGE Dylan Brooks (Roanoke, AL), DL Lee Hunter (Eight Mile, AL), QB TJ Finley (LSU), DC Derek Mason, OC Mike Bobo, OL Coach Will Friend.

Name you need to know: Tank Bigsby came out of nowhere as a freshman in 2020 and rushed for 834 yards and five TDs. It was enough to send D.J. Williams scurrying off to Tallahassee.

Strengths: Bigsby didn’t leave... Linebackers and secondary should be solid... Returning starters on OL and TE... Being an outsider, Harsin might have the audacity to (clutch pearls) bench Aubie’s favorite son Nix if/when he struggles in favor of former LSU QB TJ Finley...

Weaknesses: Except for RB coach Cadillac Williams, it’s an all new coaching staff... Harsin’s unfamiliarity of football in the South... Top three wide receivers are gone and there is no John Metchie... Offensive line returns several starters but they struggled last year... Defensive line is weak... How will Bo Nix do under his third OC in three years?

Outlook: Much like Tennessee a few years ago, Auburn went with Option J because the first nine head coaching choices turned them down. The Tigers went with an outsider from Boise galdarn Idaho and if you talk to some Broncos fans, they are glad to see Harsin go. He plans to use the same blueprint at Auburn that he used in potato country. But isn’t this sport about adapt or die? There won’t be any no-star walk-on linebacker who played eight-man football that he can pluck out of obscurity, no blue football fields, and no UNLV or Wyoming on the conference schedule. I see some hard lesson coming his way this year.

2021 SCHEDULE:

Sat, Sept 4 vs Akron - W
Sat, Sept 11 vs Alabama State - W
Sat, Sept 18 @ Penn State - L - Unless PSU derps it up.
Sat, Sept 25 vs Georgia State - W
Sat, Oct 2 @ LSU - L
Sat, Oct 9 vs Georgia - L
Sat, Oct 16 @ Arkansas - W
Sat, Oct 23 bye
Sat, Oct 30 vs Ole Miss - W - Home field makes a difference.
Sat, Nov 6 @ Texas A&M - L
Sat, Nov 13 vs Mississippi State - W
Sat, Nov 20 @ South Carolina - W
Sat, Nov 27 vs Alabama - L

Poll

Regular season wins for Aubie in 2021:

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    10 or more (I’m high on Mountain Time Malzahn!)
    (9 votes)
  • 1%
    9
    (9 votes)
  • 8%
    8
    (49 votes)
  • 18%
    7
    (111 votes)
  • 42%
    6
    (263 votes)
  • 27%
    5 or less
    (171 votes)
612 votes total Vote Now

ALABAMA SCHEDULE PREVIEWS:

Sep 4 vs Miami* 2:30 PM CT, ABC
Sep 11 vs Mercer 3:00 PM CT, SECN
Sep 18 @ Florida 2:30 PM CT, CBS
Sep 25 vs Southern Miss
Oct 2 vs Ole Miss
Oct 9 @ Texas A&M
Oct 16 @ Mississippi State
Oct 23 vs Tennessee
Oct 30 bye
Nov 6 vs LSU
Nov 13 vs New Mexico State
Nov 20 vs Arkansas
Nov 27 @ Auburn

*Atlanta, GA