Top 25 teams and games — No. 9 Auburn


Published: Saturday, June 21, 2008 at 11:48 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, June 21, 2008 at 11:48 p.m.

TEAM NO. 9 AUBURN

The buzz: A year ago, the Tigers were under the radar. This year, Tommy Tuberville's team is all over the radar even if nobody is sure what to think of Auburn. Two new coordinators and a brand new style of offense will make things exciting on the plains but will they be successful?

Difference-maker: Doesn't it seem like Auburn always has a running back who can break the long one and also get the tough yards inside. Ben Tate is that kind of player and he rushed for 903 yards last year. Gator fans will remember his 65 rushing yards and a score in Auburn's win last year.

The upside: The Tigers are skilled and talented and may finally have found an offense to go with a defense that ranked sixth in the nation last year. With new coordinator Tony Franklin bringing in the spread, the Tigers went over 400 yards in their bowl game.

The downside: The Tigers have struggled with high expectations and they are likely going to be the pre-season pick to win the West. So much depends on how quickly the players and new coaches get on the same page but the dtermining factor will be whether Tuberville gets quality play out of whomever he makes his quarterback.

Schedule factor: The early home game against LSU will be ginormous and is followed up by Tennessee. The Tigers finish with Georgia and Alabama but sandwiched into the middle of the schedule is a tough game at West Virginia. Overall, it's a manageable schedule to contend for the SEC West.

GAME NO. 9 AUBURN AT WEST VIRGINIA

Where: Mountaineer Field, Morgantown, W. Va.

When: Oct. 23.

Why it's sexy: Auburn and West Virginia are both teams that could be, wanna be and might very well be in the championship mix. This could end up being an elimination game as far as the national title hopes go. But even if it's not, there will be a lot of speed on the field.

Preseason buzz: This seems like an odd game to have in the middle of the schedule for both teams who plan to contend for their conference titles. The good news is that it's a Thursday night game so both teams get plenty of rest heading into this one.

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