SEC Football: Best and Worst-Case Scenario for Every Team in 2015

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Dec 7, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; The Auburn Tigers celebrate with the trophy after defeating the Missouri Tigers in the 2013 SEC Championship game at Georgia Dome. Auburn won 59-42. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

By ranking the Tigers No. 6 in the preseason AP Top 25 and No. 7 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, it appears that many in the world of college football believe the best-case scenario for Auburn in 2015 won’t be a stretch at all.

Despite an 8-5 overall record and a 4-4 mark in SEC play, punctuated by a defense that set school records for futility that was the biggest reason the Tigers lost their final four games against FBS opponents last season, Auburn is a legitimate SEC championship and national title contender. In fact, the Tigers were picked by the league media to win the conference crown.

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The reasons for optimism are simple: Auburn is a well-coached football team that has the talent to beat anybody in the nation. Head coach Gus Malzahn is an offensive coaching legend, and new quarterback Jeremy Johnson has a chance to be the best QB Malzahn has coached since Cam Newton won the Heisman Trophy and led the Tigers to the BCS National Championship.

Malzahn also made one of the strongest moves of the off-season by luring Will Muschamp back to the Plains to serve as defensive coordinator. Because Muschamp’s teams have always played great defense, there’s reason to believe he can lead a quick turnaround, especially because he’ll have defensive end Carl Lawson back following an injury that cost him all of 2014, as well as defensive back transfers Tray Matthews and Blake Countess, and No. 1 recruit Byron Cowart.

Every game on the schedule is winnable, and Auburn has the benefit of playing its three toughest opponents – Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama – at home.

Auburn’s Best-Case Scenario: A second national championship in five seasons

Next: Worst-Case Scenario: Auburn