AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn has scheduled 16 non-conference games through 2024, and several games are marquee matchups that will garner national attention.
The 11 teams on the schedule include Big Ten, Pac 12 and ACC schools, but holes remain in the schedule for the 2018 and 2020 seasons for Power 5 opponents. All options are on the table as the Tigers try to zero in on a marquee game at a neutral site or another home-and-home series.
For now, the schedule is pretty stout, so let’s rank the non-conference opponents on Auburn’s schedule.
11. Alabama A&M (Nov 19, 2016)
Alabama A&M is a combined 7-16 under third-year coach James Spady. The game will serve as a nice buffer between road trips to Georgia and Alabama this season.
10. Alabama State (Nov. 17, 2018; Nov. 20, 2021)
The in-state FCS program has never faced Auburn, but the two programs extended a one-game deal into a two-game deal in May.
9. Georgia State (Sept. 25, 2021)
Georgia State is a combined 17-53 in six seasons of existence, including three years in the FBS. The Panthers advanced to a bowl game in 2015 and finished the season 6-7 with a 27-16 loss to San Jose State in the Cure Bowl.
Georgia State could be a completely different program in four years, but for now it’s among the lower-tier FBS teams.
8. Mercer (Sept. 16, 2017)
The FCS team should provide Auburn a break in the schedule after traveling to Clemson. Mercer dropped its football program during World War II and it did not return until 2013.
7. Louisiana Monroe (Oct. 1, 2016; Nov. 18, 2017)
Auburn fans do not have fond memories of Louisiana Monroe. The Warhawks nearly upset Auburn in 2012, but the Tigers held on for a 31-28 win in overtime.
6. Georgia Southern (Sept. 2, 2017)
Georgia Southern has not been in the FBS long, but it has been successful. The Eagles won the Sun Belt Conference title with an 8-0 record in 2014, advanced to and won a bowl game in 2015 and enters the 2016 season with high expectations.
The Eagles won six national titles previously as an FCS school. Oh, and here’s a fun fact: Gus is the name of the school’s mascot.
5. Arkansas State (Sept. 10, 2016)
Gus Malzahn faces his old team for the second time in an early-season game this upcoming season at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn is 3-0 against the Red Wolves, who were defeated 38-9 by Auburn in 2013.
We’re sure Auburn fans will make sure to pay extra attention to Arkansas State assistant and towel waver Trooper Taylor, the eclectic coach and recruiter on former Auburn coach Gene Chizik’s staff.
4. California (Sept. 9, 2023; Sept. 7, 2024)
The dates on this series have changed twice and there’s no telling where Cal will be standing in the Pac-12 (will it still be called the Pac-12?) in seven years. Auburn has never faced the Bears before, so there’s great appeal there for fans. Plus, a trip to Berkeley will be nice for fans.
3. Penn State (Sept. 18, 2021; Sept. 17, 2022)
The fact that Auburn never has played a Big Ten opponent during the regular season is amazing, so scheduling a home-and-home with a traditional brand like Penn State is a great feat for the scheduling minds at Auburn and Penn State.
There’s no telling what shape either program will be in when this matchup finally arrives in 2021, but a trip to Happy Valley in State College, Pa., will be historic for the Tigers either way.
2. Oregon (Aug. 31, 2019)
A rematch of the 2011 BCS National Championship. What else needs to be said? Auburn fans will be nostalgic heading into this game inside AT&T Stadium in Dallas, and they should be, too. The question is whether the same coaching staffs will be in place when the season opener arrives in 2019. If so, two uptempo offenses facing off could be a great and fun way to open up the college football season with a marquee matchup.
1. Clemson (Sept. 3, 2016; Sept. 9, 2017)
Clemson has been on the rise under Dabo Swinney’s rule, and taking the Tigers of the ACC to the national championship in a classic game against Alabama last season solidified his place among the elite coaches in the country.
Clemson’s roster this upcoming season, along with the game being in Jordan-Hare Stadium, makes this THE marquee game of the Gus Malzahn era and in the next few years on the schedule. Heisman frontrunner Deshaun Watson on the Plains? This one should be fun.