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

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Jan 1, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Auburn Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn against the Wisconsin Badgers during the second half in the 2015 Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Wisconsin Badgers defeated the Auburn Tigers 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The hype surrounding the Auburn football program is a bit peculiar. The Tigers enter the 2015 season with enormous expectations despite falling apart at the end of the 2014 and returning one of the least experienced lineups in the SEC.

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Forget about the defense for a minute – though the Tigers finished in the back half of the league in every major defensive category in 2014 – but Gus Malzahn’s offense will look completely different this year. The Tigers return just 22.7 percent of their offensive yards from last season, which is the second fewest in the nation.

That includes the SEC’s leading rusher Cameron Artis-Payne, two-year starting quarterback Nick Marshall, who was the team’s second leading rusher and accounted for 31 total touchdowns last season, as well as big-play threat and leading receiver Sammie Coates.

But it doesn’t take into consideration the loss of All-American center Reese Dismukes. Overall, the Tigers lost 42.5 percent of their letter winners from last season. Only Florida lost more in the SEC, and only four teams lost more nationally.

Every game on the schedule may be “winnable,” but there are some very tricky matchups. The season opener against Louisville in Atlanta could prove troublesome for a team breaking in so many new pieces on offense, as well as a new defensive coordinator that hasn’t been a DC since 2010. Plus, the Cardinals are a good football team capable for competing for the ACC title.

Two weeks later, the Tigers must travel to Death Valley in the SEC opener against LSU. A 0-1 start to the season followed by a 0-1 start in SEC play is very possible. That nightmare start could doom the Tigers to an even worse record than their disappointing 2014 campaign.

Auburn’s Worst-Case Scenario: The Tigers fail to meet expectations for the second straight season and fall to a mid-level bowl game

Next: Best-Case Scenario: Georgia