For Auburn, the 2018 season probably can’t arrive soon enough after the Tigers squandered their shot at a College Football Playoff berth in 2017. The Tigers were a win away in the 2017 SEC championship game from becoming the first two-loss team to make the four-team field. But a loss to Georgia in Atlanta and subsequent loss to UCF in the Peach Bowl provided a disappointing end to a promising season.
Still, a 10-4 record is nothing to sneeze at, as evidenced by Gus Malzahn’s raise and contract extension through 2024. That performance has the Auburn Football ranked No. 8 in Sporting News’ updated way-too-early top 25, but they have an even tougher path to the Playoff in 2018.
Here’s a look ahead at the Tigers’ 2018 season:
Auburn football schedule 2018
|April 7||A-Day Spring Game||Auburn, Ala.|
|Sept. 1||No. 11 Washington||Atlanta|
|Sept. 8||Alabama State||Auburn, Ala.|
|Sept. 15||No. 13 LSU||Auburn, Ala.|
|Sept. 22||Arkansas||Auburn, Ala.|
|Sept. 29||Southern Miss||Auburn, Ala.|
|Oct. 6||at Mississippi State||Starkville, Miss.|
|Oct. 13||Tennessee||Auburn, Ala.|
|Oct. 20||at Ole Miss||Oxford, Miss.|
|Nov. 3||No. 25 Texas A&M||Auburn, Ala.|
|Nov. 10||at No. 3 Georgia||Athens, Ga.|
|Nov. 17||Liberty||Auburn, Ala.|
|Nov. 24||at No. 1 Alabama||Tuscaloosa, Ala.|
|Dec. 1||SEC championship||Atlanta|
Auburn football recruiting 2018
Auburn’s 2018 recruiting class ranked 12th nationally and third in the SEC according to 247Sports’ Composite team rankings. The class is headlined by the top athlete in the country, dual-threat quarterback Joey Gatewood, who is already on campus. The class heavily features skilled talent, with three four-star receivers and two four-star running backs making their way to Auburn.
What to watch in 2018:
1. What will run game look like?
Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway combined for more than 4,000 yards over their careers, and their departure to the NFL leaves a gaping hole to fill at running back. Thankfully for the Tigers, projected starter Kam Martin rushed for 453 yards last season after Pettway was lost to injury against Arkansas. That still leaves a spot available for sophomores Devan Barrett and Malik Miller, who combined for 48 carries and 214 yards for the Tigers in 2017, or four-star running back Asa Martin, the No. 9 running back in the 2018 class and an early enrollee.
2. How will Stidham progress in Year 2?
Jarrett Stidham was one of the league’s best quarterbacks last season, completing 66.5 percent of passes for 3,158 yards and 18 touchdowns to six interceptions. It will be worth watching how defenses defend against him without the threat of Johnson and Pettway, though he still gets to work with his top five receiving leaders from last year, all of whom had at least 265 yards and all but one of whom caught a touchdown. The return of offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey will go a long way in helping him take on an even larger role in 2018.
3. Can Auburn win the West again?
As tough as Auburn’s schedule was in 2017, it will only get tougher this season. Gone is the Clemson home-and-home, only to be replaced with a season-opening, neutral-site collision with No. 11 Washington. Auburn gets LSU early in the schedule at home, but finishes with a tough November stretch against Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama. Those last two opponents could easily be undefeated at that point in the season, and the Tigers will have to go on the road to play them both. The Tigers may need to win both for another SEC championship berth — and another shot at their first Playoff appearance.