A promising 2014 season for Auburn football ran off the rails late as the Tigers dropped four of their final five games to finish 8-5 and well out of the College Football Playoff picture. However, 2015 presents a fresh start and a squad built for major success in both the SEC and national spotlight. Here are four reasons why they're guaranteed to win the SEC this season:
1) The Muschamp Effect
Muschamp is already making waves in recruiting for the Tigers, but it's his track record as a defensive mastermind which has everyone buzzing. "I think he’s one of the best or the best defensive minds in all of football," coach Gus Malzahn said recently. "We’re very fortunate to have him, and he’s going to build this defense like he needs. "I think if you look at his track record, he gets it done everywhere he’s been. I think we’re set up staff-wise to be a contender every year." People tend to forget that Muschamp built an elite defense out of chewing gum and baling wire in Gainesville. Yes there was talent to be had on that squad, but imagine what he can do with the recruiting machine and lack of a losing stigma at Auburn.
2) Jeremy Johnson's Breakout Season
"The proof is in the pudding with him," noted QB gurd Richard Moncrief said of Johnson recently. "You're talking about Mr. Alabama football,(runner-up) Mr. Alabama basketball. When he played at Auburn, he put on a show. I looked at the Arkansas game again last night on my DVR. Special talent." Johnson is so athletically gifted and already such a brilliant on-field leader that he'll only serve to amplify the effectiveness of the Tigers' offense...perhaps exponentially. Johnson is the perfect shootout quarterback. He's also an effective game manager. It's rare that you see that combo in someone so young, and that's a fantastic sign of things to come.
3) Good Schedule
The Tigers have to travel to Death Valley in Week 3, but that marks their toughest road test of the season. Auburn gets Louisville at a neutral site and the three SEC biggies on their schedule (Alabama, Ole Miss, Georgia) in the friendly confines of Jordan-Hare. With the collection of talent that Auburn has put together in 2015, it's entirely feasible that they head into their home game against November 14th showdown with UGA at a perfect 9-0. Get through that, or even split the final two between Alabama and Georgia, and the Tigers will have the inside track to a CFP berth (at the very least).
4) Duke Williams
Williams decided to hold off on declaring for the NFL Draft for another season (Mel Kiper has him as the top-ranked receiver for the 2016 draft) much to the delight of Auburn fans. He's a big receiver (6'2", 216 pounds) that is a lethal deep threat, averaging over 16 yards a catch in 2014. Now that Jeremy Johnson is taking over the quarterback job, Auburn will start throwing the ball more, and Williams could see an Amari Cooper-like amount of targets in 2015.
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