AUBURN, Ala. — With only 30 days to go before the start of the 2017 season, Auburn football has its first major preseason ranking on the board.
Auburn came in at No. 13 in the Amway Coaches Poll released Thursday by USA Today.
Auburn is the third-highest ranked SEC team behind No. 1 Alabama and No. 12 LSU. Georgia (No. 15), Florida (No. 16) and Tennessee (No. 24) round out the conference representatives.
The Tigers were unranked in the coaches poll to start the 2016 season and finished No. 22 after climbing as high as No. 8 during the campaign.
Auburn is on track to return more starters this season than it has in more than a decade, including running back Kamryn Pettway, who led the SEC in rushing yards per game last fall. The Tigers are also coming off their best defensive season under Gus Malzahn.
Malzahn’s program also has the advantage of facing its two biggest rivals, Georgia and Alabama, at home in 2017. The Tigers added highly touted transfer quarterback Jarrett Stidham in the offseason — whose presence has increased Auburn’s hype over the last few months.
Auburn will face a pair of preseason top five teams in 2017 — No. 1 Alabama and No. 5 Clemson. Both teams have played for the College Football Playoff national championship in each of the last two seasons. The Tigers travel to Clemson in Week 2. The Tigers will also face No. 12 LSU and No. 15 Georgia during the regular season.
Auburn’s last preseason appearance in the Top 15 of the coaches poll came in 2015, when the Tigers started at No. 7. They were out of the poll by the end of the month following losses to LSU and Mississippi State after shaky wins over Louisville and FCS program Jacksonville State.
Auburn is currently in its first week of fall camp for the 2017 season. The Tigers are off Thursday but will return to the practice field Friday and Saturday.