AUBURN, Ala. — As Auburn football winds down its spring practices this week, ESPN has handed the Tigers by far its best preseason projection for the 2017 campaign.
On Wednesday, ESPN updated its Football Power Index rankings to incorporate “returning starters and recruiting rankings for each team to project the best teams and units in 2017.” In the latest version, Auburn is ranked No. 5 in the nation.
“The Tigers return 15 starters and bring in former Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham as part of the No. 9 recruiting class,” ESPN’s Stats & Information wrote. “With the No. 5 offense, No. 7 special teams and No. 10 defense, Auburn joins Ohio State and Alabama as the only schools projected to have three top-10 units.”
Here’s the top 10 in ESPN’s latest FPI rankings, with Auburn trailing just Alabama among SEC teams:
- Ohio State
- Florida State
- Penn State
The FPI also includes a projection of each game on the Tigers’ 2017 schedule. The Tigers have to play three different top-seven FPI teams — Alabama, LSU and Clemson.
ESPN’s FPI currently projects Auburn with 9.5 wins and 2.8 losses. According to the rankings, Auburn has 1.9 percent chance to go undefeated and a 19.8 percent chance to win the SEC.
The Tigers have the nation’s 19th-toughest schedule in 2017, per FPI’s standards. Here’s is a game-by-game look at Auburn’s 2017 schedule with win expectancy:
- vs. Georgia Southern: 99.0
- at Clemson: 47.5
- vs. Mercer: 99.7
- at Missouri: 82.7
- vs. Mississippi State: 88.2
- vs. Ole Miss: 89.3
- at LSU: 47.0
- at Arkansas: 80.1
- at Texas A&M: 74.9
- vs. Georgia: 73.8
- vs. UL-Monroe: 98.9
- vs. Alabama: 44.5
Last season, Auburn finished No. 11 in ESPN’s FPI despite an 8-5 record. Three of the Tigers’ losses came to top-7 FPI teams, and Auburn also had a home win against LSU, the No. 6 team in the advanced rankings.
Auburn unofficially opens its 2017 season on Saturday with the annual A-Day spring game. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. CT on the SEC Network.