Will Auburn make the playoffs?
LAS VEGAS, NV (The Spread) – Auburn came out of nowhere to make an appearance in the last BCS title game a year ago. But will the Tigers make the four-team playoff this season?
According to oddsmakers from online sports book BetDSI, the Tigers have 17/10 odds to make the four-team playoff in college football next season and have 2/5 odds to miss the postseason altogether. Auburn is also 9/1 to win the 2014-15 FBS Championship, which gives the team comparable odds to Florida State (5/1), Alabama (6/1), and Oregon (8/1).
The key offensively for the Tigers will once again be their running back under head coach Gus Malzahn, as well as the play of quarterback Nick Marshall, who was sensational a year ago. The program lead the nation in rushing last season and is unlikely to drop much, even after Greg Robinson and Tre Mason were drafted back in May. The strength of the team remains its offensive line.
On defense, the unit returns seven starters including linebacker Robenson Therezie, who is primed to have a big year. Defensive tackle Gabe Wright, defensive end LaDarius Owens, linebacker Cassanova McKinzy and cornerbacks Joshua Hosley and Jermaine Whitehead are the other returning starters. Losing Dee Ford, Nosa Eguae, Kenneth Carter and Craig Sanders will hurt, but there’s plenty of talent up front if Malzahn and his staff can develop the youngsters.
There’s no reason Auburn can’t win nine-to-11 games this season but the Tigers won’t sneak up on any opponent this year like they did in 2013. The problem is their schedule is tough, with road games at Alabama, Georgia, Ole Miss and Mississippi State, as well as triple to Kansas State in non-conference play. Home games against LSu, South Carolina and Texas A&M will also provide a challenge, so the Tigers have their work cut out for them to win the West again. That said, opponents still have to figure out how to slow down Malzahn’s rushing attack, which proved difficult for everyone a year ago, including No. 1 Florida State in the BCS title game.