Fall camps are under way and the regular season will be here soon so that means getting an early jump on the 2006 NCAA football season. Knowing the teams now will save you time and author is here to help you get a grasp of what to expect this upcoming year. We go from worst to first in this 2006 College Football Preview.
Fargo’s Take The other SEC Tigers’ team is next on the list as Auburn will be the one team to challenge LSU in the SEC West. The auburn tigers return most of the cogs from their 9-3 season and they will be looking to get back to the SEC Championship after missing it last year. LSU defeated Auburn in overtime which was the ultimate tiebreaker for the West title and it was a game that should have been won as Auburn missed five field goals. A disappointing loss to Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl should have this team very motivated this season. The Tigers had the top ranked offense in the SEC a season ago and it will be potent once again led by quarterback Brandon Cox and tailback Kenny Irons. The defense finished 6th in scoring last year and will be one of if not the fastest defense in the conference. The schedule is nearly just the opposite to that of LSU and that is the main reason Auburn gets the nod to take the division and makes a solid run at the National Championship.
Returning Starters on Offense – 6 There was not a whole lot on offense heading into 2005 as Jason Campbell, Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams all had to be replaced so it was expected to be a down year. The exact opposite took place as Cox finished with 2,324 yards along with 15 touchdowns and just eight interceptions while Irons went from backup tailback to starter and led the SEC in rushing. This season, the loss of the top three receivers will be tough to overcome but there is plenty of young talent that will be asked to contribute right away. Courtney Taylor is the only senior starter and he will be the go to guy. The other big concern is lack of depth along the offensive line. Three starters are back but the second team is made up of three sophomores and a redshirt freshman. All in all, the unit does not expect to dropoff much.
Returning Starters on Defense – 6 Auburn will be pegged as one of the top defenses in the conference yet again. The Tigers finished 19th in the country in total defense last year and they are once again strong from front to back. The front seven lost five players to graduation but it is still extremely experienced with four seniors leading the way. The best player is Will Herring, who is the starting strongside linebacker after starting the last three years at safety. He is such a good athlete that he will likely be an All-SEC selection yet again despite a position change. The secondary brings back both corners and depth at safety is strong which allowed Herring to move up. The biggest concern isn’t on the field but on the sidelines as Will Muschamp will be the auburn tigers third defensive coordinator in the last three years.
Schedule Auburn gets the edge over LSU because of the schedule. The non-conference portion is extremely easy with Washington St., Buffalo, Tulane and Arkansas St. being four easy wins. The best part is that those games are spread out and not bunched together at the start of the season. The SEC slate is obviously difficult but the four toughest games are all at home, which is the exact opposite of LSU. Home games against LSU, Florida, Arkansas and Georgia are all winnable which likely would not be the case if they were on the road. The road slate starts easy with Mississippi St., South Carolina and Mississippi being the first three with the Iron Bowl at Alabama being the toughest of the bunch to close out the year.
You can bet on… Yes, the Tigers have a difficult SEC schedule but this team has gone 16-1 within the conference over the last two seasons and with the difficult games all being played in Jordan-Hare Stadium, going undefeated in the conference is not all that implausible. Some breaks will have to their way but this team is strong throughout and will make it tough for anyone else out of the West to catch them. Auburn has had a winning ATS record in three of the last four years, going 30-17-1 against the number over that span. This includes a 15-6-1 ATS mark over the last two years but trying to keep up that pace will be difficult. Expect to see some big numbers being given by the auburn tigersas the public is well aware of their recent success and will be riding it out as far as it possibly can.