Auburn Football: Brutal Second Half Schedule Now Appears More Manageable


Oct 4, 2014; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall (14) works around the defense of LSU Tigers defensive end Tashawn Bower (46) at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

The first half of the 2014 Auburn football schedule hasn’t exactly been a picnic for the 5-1 Tigers. Auburn beat Kansas State and LSU, both currently ranked in the AP Top 25, and lost to Mississippi State, who then became the No. 1 team in both national polls. However, a common topic of conversation through the first two months of the season has been the exceedingly difficult second half schedule that looms for the Tigers.

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At one point, eight of Auburn’s 12 opponents this season were ranked by both the Associated Press and the Amway Coaches Poll, including five of the final six teams the Tigers will face this season. However, because South Carolina and Texas A&M have stumbled in the month of October, the second half slate appears to be slightly less dangerous now than it once was.

Simply put, the Gamecocks and Aggies are a combined 1-5 in October, with the lone win being South Carolina’s 41-10 Homecoming victory over Furman last Saturday.

Auburn will host the Gamecocks this weekend. South Carolina began the year ranked ninth in the AP Top 25 but was promptly blown out at home by Texas A&M in the season’s opening game, and was also beaten by Missouri and Kentucky in the past three weeks.

Once believed to be the favorite in the SEC East and even a national title contender, Carolina is 4-3 overall and all three losses have come in conference play. A major reason for the disappointing start to the season has been the Gamecocks’ defense.

The team ranks 13th in the SEC (ahead of only Vanderbilt) and 92nd in the nation in scoring defense. Opponents have averaged 31.4 points per game against the Gamecocks this season, and South Carolina has allowed 39.3 games in their three losses, including 52 to the Aggies and 45 to Kentucky.

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  • A closer look at the defensive statistics shows Carolina has been nearly as pass against the pass as they have been stopping the run. The Gamecocks have allowed 421 total yards per game across the team’s first seven contests, which ranks 12th in the league. South Carolina ranks 13th in the SEC with 239.6 passing yards allowed per game and are dead last in rush defense with 181.7 yards allowed on average.

    Similarly, Texas A&M has struggled to keep opponents off the scoreboard. Skewed by an incredibly easy non-conference schedule, the Aggies have allowed 27.1 points per game this season. But, A&M has allowed 39.6 points per game in five conference games and a staggering 47.3 points per game in three consecutive losses.

    Both South Carolina and Texas A&M spent time ranked in the nation’s top ten, but three losses each makes them a pair of non-ranked teams. Auburn must still play three extremely tough conference road games against No. 3 Ole Miss, No. 9 Georgia and No. 4 Alabama, but the home slate – including Saturday’s showdown with South Carolina, a November 8 date with Texas A&M and a November 22 Iron Bowl tune-up against FCS opponent Samford – now feels very manageable.

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    Next: Week 9 SEC Football Power Rankings

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