Benjamin Wolk/SEC Country
Auburn fans are putting a lot of stock in quarterback Jarrett Stidham with little evidence, says SI's Andy Staples.

Sports Illustrated: ‘Blind faith’ is raising expectations for Auburn football

Hopes are high once again for Gus Malzahn, Jarrett Stidham and Auburn football.

The Tigers claimed the No. 13 spot in the USA Today preseason Amway Coaches Poll that was released on Thursday morning. But after some tumultuous seasons on the Plains, there are doubters with realistic concerns.

For example, Sports Illustrated college football guru Andy Staples believes there is a lot that remains to be seen when it comes to Auburn.

According to Staples, the formula for figuring out who might fall out of the rankings by the end of the season involves faith and evidence.

MORE: Auburn football lands inside top 15 of preseason coaches poll 

Staples says in a video on, “The team that we seem to be putting the most faith in, without evidence, is Auburn.”

“We don’t know what Jarrett Stidham will do at quarterback. We don’t know what the offense will look like under Chip Lindsey,” Staples says. “We have faith that Jarrett Stidham, because he played well in his freshman year at Baylor, will be the quarterback they’ve been looking for. We have faith that Chip Lindsey’s offense will help them move the ball better, but we don’t know yet.”

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Staples goes on to explain that Auburn’s schedule, particularly in the SEC West, isn’t going to make the road to the College Football Playoff any easier.

“If things start going wrong early,” Staples says. “It could be pretty tough for them to bounce back.”

Indeed, in Sept. the Tigers travel to Missouri, play both Mississippi schools and then will be in Baton Rouge to face LSU in Tiger Stadium. That doesn’t include of course, the late-season meetings with Georgia and the Crimson Tide (both of which are at Jordan-Hare).

“Blind faith,” Staples says is the source of expectations.

“Now that blind faith could be completely rewarded,” Staples said. “It may be that Jarrett Stidham is who’ve they’ve been looking for. Chip Lindsey’s offense  will allow them to move the ball down the field with regularity, and that defense won’t drop off much from last year. But you’re asking for a lot of things to happen…”