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2016 Conference Preview: SEC

DARK HORSE

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Just three seasons removed from an appearance in the National Championship Game, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn is feeling the heat after two consecutive less-than-stellar seasons.

The lack of consistency at QB has plagued the Tigers with both Jeremy Johnson and Sean White back and battling for the starting job after both struggled to seize the role in 2015. If Auburn can find a steady QB to lead the offense, there is plenty of talent after Malzahn reeled in a top-10 recruiting class.

On defense, the Tigers are hoping once-promising prospect Carl Lawson can realize his potential at defensive end after an injury-filled first two seasons.

Given Auburn’s track record of coming out of nowhere when ‘experts’ least expect it, this could be one of those seasons. However, a rather difficult schedule of paper will give them plenty of chances to prove themselves. 2016 for the Tigers opens up with national runner-up from a season ago Clemson in a battle of Tigers teams, part of a scheduled home-and-home series for the next two seasons.

They have just four road games this season, but all four will be challenging. They travel to both Mississippi schools in October, head to Athens to face the Bulldogs in November and then have to travel to Tuscaloosa to end the season in the latest installment of the always-exciting Iron Bowl rivalry.

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