AUBURN, Alabama — It’s that time of year again.
Magazine stands are starting to fill up with preseason college football publications, and one of the first released this year is Athlon Sports’ prognostications, which includes insight from rival coaches and how they view Auburn heading into the upcoming season.
It’s a crucial fourth year for coach Gus Malzahn, whose 12-2 and SEC title debut campaign has been followed by eight- and seven- win seasons. It’s a critical time for the program and the coach in his career, who needed a victory against Memphis in the Birmingham Bowl to avoid his first losing season as a coach — on any level — since the early 1990’s.
Where does Athlon Sports rank the Tigers? Auburn lands at No. 35 in their national rankings, which equates to a sixth-place finish in the seven-team SEC Western Division. They foresee a 6-6 record, along with three SEC wins (one more than last season), before facing Wisconsin in the Music City Bowl.
“Even though Malzahn has recruited well, there are too many question marks on offense to expect significant improvement in 2016,” according to the prediction.
One opposing coach in the magazine says Auburn’s offensive line was underrated last season under the tutelage of J.B. Grimes. “But they didn’t get some of the credit they deserved up front because they were so bad at quarterback. I was really shocked that you never saw anybody step up for their offense.” An opposing coach goes on to say quarterback “Jeremy Johnson wasn’t a player at all.”
For more from Athlon’s take on Auburn, the Athlon Sports College Football Preview is available on newsstands now.