ESPN ranks Auburn Football 20th in future college football power rankings
ESPN versions their future power rankings each offseason, during which FPR is used to rank Top 25 teams over the next three seasons (2021-2023). The RPF is ranked by ESPN as a personnel-based projection, which is used to predict who will be the best programs in the country in the future of college football. So how did Auburn’s football rank against its SEC enemies?
Auburn football last season was ranked 12th and held a future offensive ranking No.19, while having a defensive ranking in the Top 10 in place No.9. Here’s what ESPN and the ranking had to say about last season’s Auburn Tigers:
â€œThe tricky part with Auburn isn’t the talent. The program prides itself on challenging the SEC and the PSC. But coach Gus Malzahn’s professional status, as well as questions of whether he lost his fastball on offense, cast a shadow over the schedule and his three-year outlook. Auburn’s defense is led by veteran coordinator Kevin Steele and is looking forward to positions as linebacker with KJ Britt senior and dynamic sophomore Owen Pappoe. While the Tigers will miss Derrick Brown and others up front, developing their line and recruiting their last seven (Christopher Thompson Jr., Ladarius Tennison, Wesley Steiner) ensures virtually no major slippage.
However, the SEC leans more on the offense, and Malzahn and new coordinator Chad Morris need more quarterback Bo Nix in his second season. Auburn has enough of a wide receiver and running back, especially after adding the remarkable 2020 rookie Tank Bigsby. An offensive line upgrade will help, although the squad will have continuity. “
The Tigers finished 6-5 and absolutely missed Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson on defense while struggling all season on the offensive line. This led to a slight regression at Bo Nix and the Tigers failed to meet their lofty preseason goals, which ultimately led to the sacking of Gus Malzahn.
The ESPN and Power rankings were much more conservative with Auburn’s football this year, as the Tigers were ranked # 20 in the 2021 Future Powers Rankings. The Tigers were not ranked in the QB standings nor in the future offensive standings. The defense was once again ranked in the top 10 and took 10th place, showing just how much progress has been made since 2016 under Kevin Steele.
That’s what ESPN said when analyzing Auburn’s football future for these rankings:
â€œThe Bryan Harsin era on the Plains begins with a very clear directive: make the most of Bo Nix (or another quarterback) and offense, while maintaining the level of performance in defense. If so, Auburn is expected to push Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU into the SEC West Division and compete for his first CFP appearance. Nix, a two-year-old starter, has obvious gifts but needs to become a more stable passer and less reckless player overall. If not, Harsin could move on to LSU transfer TJ Finley, Dematrius Davis or, in a year, the 2022 quarterback signs ESPN 300 selection Holden Geriner. The new coach inherits an emerging star in second running back Tank Bigsby , but must identify other playmakers at wide receiver and tight end. Second-year offshore Elijah Canion is among those to watch under Harsin and coordinator Mike Bobo. Auburn returns all five line starters and a solid center in senior Nick Brahms, but the squad needs more from the veterans squad, as well as recruiting / transfer upgrades for 2022 and 2023.
Former Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason takes charge of an Auburn defense led by talented tandem linebacker Owen Pappoe and senior Zakoby McClain, as well as cornerback Roger McCreary and veteran safety Smoke Monday. The full back outlook beyond 2022 looks solid with defensive backs Nehemiah Pritchett and Ladarius Tennison, linebacker Cam Riley and others. Auburn loses quite a bit up front but brings back All-SEC freshman selection Colby Wooden, and added end Marcus Harris, a transfer from Kansas. The Tigers have also recruited well along the line with Dylan Brooks, ESPN’s No.18 rookie for 2021, and are taking on Lee Hunter.
The quarterback is clearly going to be the X factor for the Tigers and Bo Nix faces the most important season of his career for the Tigers. TJ Finley will be there if he doesn’t live up to the hype and Bryan Harsin knows winning is a must, even in Year 1. It will be one of the biggest quarterback battles we’ve seen. on the Plains if Nix leaves the door open during the 2021 season. Nix and this young group of wide receivers are going to have to find a way to keep up with the stellar defensive performances expected if the Tigers expect to participate in the SEC.
On the defensive side of the ball, the biggest question mark surrounds the defensive line and whether Nick Eason can find a way to bring back a scramble for Auburn’s pass, which was lackluster at best last season. Dylan Brooks and Lee Hunter will need to be able to contribute immediately, while Colby Wooden will need to build on their momentum after a solid end to 2020. If JJ Pegues can find his rhythm on the defensive line, then the Tigers could have one of the SEC’s most talented defensive lines. Derek Mason has a lot of untapped potential, but if he clicks I would expect the Tigers to surpass their Top 10 standings and have a Top-5 run.
The stage is set for an extremely unpredictable season for Auburn football. Will the Tigers exceed expectations once again? We will know from September 4 at Jordan-Hare Stadium!