The Auburn Tigers will start the 2020 college football season just outside the top 10.
Earlier in the month, Auburn came in at No. 11 in the annual preseason Coaches Poll. Apparently, putting the Tigers just outside the top 10 is going to be the consensus as Auburn lands in the same spot in the preseason AP poll that was released on Monday.
However, with conferences like the Big Ten and Pac-12 already opting out of fall football this season, Auburn’s No. 11 ranking could come with some caveats.
Despite several teams not planning to play football in the fall, the preseason AP Poll includes such teams.
The Tigers are sandwiched right in between No. 10 Notre Dame and No. 12 Wisconsin, who, as part of the Big Ten, will not play football this fall.
Speaking of teams not playing football in the fall, three teams ahead of Auburn‚— Ohio State (No. 2), Penn State (No.7) and Oregon (No. 9) have all already opted out.
Auburn is also one of seven SEC schools ranked in the top 25 of the poll — six of whom are in the top 15. With a 10-game, conference-only schedule slated for Auburn and the rest of the SEC this season, that gives the Tigers five ranked teams on their 2020 schedule (Alabama, UGA, LSU, Texas A&M and Tennessee.)
Prior to the move to a conference-only schedule for 2020, Auburn was also scheduled to face off against No. 18 North Carolina in Week 2 as a part of the Chick Fil-A Kickoff Games in Atlanta.
The entire AP Poll is as follows:
- Ohio State
- Penn State
- Notre Dame
- Texas A&M
- Oklahoma State
- North Carolina
- Iowa State
It is unclear how the Associated Press will deal with the rankings of teams that aren’t playing this season but I think it can safely be assumed that those teams will eventually fall in the rankings. If you only include the teams that are still planning to play in the fall, Auburn is No. 8 in the poll.
Last season, Auburn opened the season as the 16th ranked team in the nation. The Tigers started off with a win against No. 11 Oregon and peaked at No. 7 in the rankings. Following an Outback Bowl loss to Minnesota and a 9-4 overall record, Auburn ended the season at No. 14 in the AP Poll.
Additionally, 2020 marks the sixth time in eight seasons under head coach Gus Malzahn that the Tigers have begun the season in the top 25. It is also Auburn’s 584th all-time appearance in the AP poll which ranks 13th among all FBS football programs.
In Malzahn’s seven previous seasons as head coach at Auburn, the Tigers have ended the season higher than what they were ranked in the preseason poll four times.
Auburn brings back star players such as sophomore quarterback Bo Nix and junior wideout Seth Williams but they also have to replace four starters on the offensive line and their leading rusher from last season.
On defense, Auburn returns one of the best linebacker corps in the nation but will be without multiple starters from last year’s secondary and defensive line stalwarts Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson.