SEC announces conference-only schedule

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Photo courtesy of Auburn Athletic Department

By Wil Crews
SportsCrews@Opelikaobserver.com

On Monday, the SEC announced the official in-conference-only schedule that is to be played this season. After it was announced last week that the Big 10 and Pac-12 seasons would be suspended until the spring at least, it was announced that the SEC would go forward with theirs. Now we know when and where the Tigers will play each opponent. Monday was also the first day that reporters talked to Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn since June 4. Since then, two Tiger players, linebacker Chandler Wooten and defensive back Traivon Leonard have opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns. Wooten in particular will be missed – he played and made tackles in every game in 2019, finishing with 27 total and one interception.

Auburn missed out on spring practice due to COVID-19, and preparation for this season will be different than any other. But as Malzahn said in Monday’s press conference, “This isn’t a time for tradition.” He’s right. Normally, I would be ecstatic about the upcoming football season, but instead, the extenuating circumstances have me all doom and gloom. But hey, at least we have football.

The Auburn Tigers 2020 Football Schedule:

Sept. 26 Kentucky at Auburn

One of the added cross-divisional games the Tigers play due to the modified in-conference-only schedule. Quarterback Joey Gatewood transferred out of Auburn to the Wildcats early last season after losing the starting job to freshman Bo Nix. Auburn has made a habit of close season-opening games, with a 21-16 victory over Washington in 2018 and a 27-21 win over Oregon last season. If Gatewood gains eligibility for the 2020 season, the Tigers could be in for another close one.

Oct. 3: Auburn at Georgia

The Deep South’s oldest rivalry will be played on the earliest calendar date since the team’s first ever meeting in 1892. It’s weird and it doesn’t seem right, but it replaces the Tigers’ would-have-been early season non-conference matchup against North Carolina.

Oct. 10: Arkansas at Auburn

Potential Chad Morris revenge game as the former Arkansas coach faces his old team for the first time as the Tigers’ offensive coordinator. Auburn loves embarrassing Arkansas. and if the Tigers are 2-0 entering the matchup, expect a bloodbath. 

Oct. 17: Auburn at South Carolina

The second of the additional cross-divisional matchups that the Tigers play with the modified in-conference-only schedule. Gus Malzahn faces his old defensive coordinator Will Muschamp.

Oct. 24: Auburn at Ole Miss

Lane Kiffin probably wishes this game were a week later on Halloween – maybe he could dress up as a good football coach. I wonder if the tailgaters at The Grove will be as friendly with their alcohol with COVID-19 around – if the tailgaters are around at all.

Oct. 31: LSU at Auburn

“LS-BOO.” What’s scarier than inviting the defending champions into Jordan-Hare on the spookiest day of the year? Probably the fact that few to no fans will be in the stadium to watch this heavyweight matchup. 

Nov. 7: Bye

Nov. 14: Auburn at Mississippi State

Davis Wade Stadium won’t be as intimating with a mitigated number of fans ringing their should-be-banned cow bells due to COVID-19. By this point in the season, it will be interesting to see what the verdict is on the always provocative first-year SEC head coach of the Bulldogs, Mike Leach.

Nov. 21: Tennessee at Auburn

No one likes Tennessee. They cling to wins and claim to be title contenders every season, just to finish 6-6. The Volunteers beat the Tigers in their last matchup in 2018 and Auburn will look to get revenge, making it back-to-back weeks beating teams with dog mascots.

Nov. 28: Auburn at Alabama

The Iron Bowl will not be the last game on the season. However, the silver lining of normalcy is that it will be played on its traditional post-thanksgiving date. Will Alabama redshirt junior quarterback Mac Jones get a chance to avenge the loss he took at the hands of the Tigers in 2019? Or will Alabama’s true freshman phenom Bryce Young be taking the snaps by that point?

Dec 5. Texas A&M at Auburn

Most Auburn fans hold a grudge against A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher. He led Florida State to a national championship in 2013, beating the Tigers on the Seminoles’ final drive. Hopefully, the players hold a grudge too. Fisher has not had the same success with A&M that he saw at Florida State, but some pundits see this as a season where the Aggies can jump into the elite group of teams in the SEC. I doubt it. Tigers by 40 to close the season – if we get there.

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