The 2020 football season is now even more complicated for the Auburn Tigers.
On July 20, the Southwestern Athletic Conference announced they are postponing all fall sports with a plan to play in the spring. With this development, Auburn will be hard-pressed to find a replacement for their Week 1 matchup against Alcorn State. Here are six potential options for a new Week 1 opponent.
Here are six teams I want to see Auburn play Week 1:
1. Georgia Tech
The next installment of the Wreck Tech Pajama Parade is well overdue. To successfully rebrand for modern times, I would suggest that it be renamed the Wreck Tech Pajama Masquerade, as requiring a mask would be the only possible way for a parade to occur.
The last time this rivalry occurred was on September 3, 2005, where the Yellowjackets won 23-14. If there was ever a time to reignite an old rivalry, it’s now. Logistically, this would be an easier game to plan for and execute.
The commute from Atlanta to Auburn is 108 miles, a drive of little over an hour and a half. With player safety being a top priority, shorter trips with reduced bus capacities make for reduced player-to-player exposure, making this game an excellent choice for Week 1.
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This is an excellent game to take place as part of the proposed SEC/ACC weekend. Auburn doesn’t have many ACC rivals, and Georgia already has Georgia Tech scheduled later in the season, should the proposed season still occur.
2. Florida State University
The 2013 National Championship is still an ever-present thought in Auburn fan's minds, making this one a bit personal. In terms of an SEC/ACC weekend, this one is a bit of stretch, but if Florida and Miami decided to reignite the rivalry between their storied programs, Florida State would be open for scheduling.
A rematch between the Tigers and the Seminoles could be a massive boost for both programs, as both are looking to establish early success in the upcoming season. Logistically, this one is a little more complicated, as Tallahassee is 191 miles from Auburn, which makes for a drive of three and a half hours.
Careful planning and significant measures to reduce time spent outside team buses would be crucial to ensuring player safety on this trip. If these two teams were to meet, sparks would surely fly, as both teams are looking to have a strong season.
3. In-State Opponents
Keeping at least one game in-state other than the Iron Bowl has been a topic I have been passionate about for a long time. Smaller schools get a sizable paycheck for coming to play against teams like Auburn. What I would like to see is keeping that money in-state.
Teams like Troy and UAB would also benefit from their players getting some great experience in their first game. There’s certainly no reason to call a matchup like this a “cupcake game.”
When Troy entered Death Valley in 2017 as LSU’s homecoming opponent, they were 20.5 point underdogs. When they left later that day, they were the victors, pulling off an upset 24–21. These kinds of games could be fun and beneficial for both sides, with money staying in-state to boost athletic programs as a whole in Alabama.
The commute from Troy and UAB would also be an easy thing to pull off, as Troy is only an hour and a half from Auburn, and UAB is two hours away. Everything makes sense about these matchups, and I am interested in seeing more of these occur in the coming years if not this season.
4. AAC Teams
Auburn fans might not like hearing this, but UCF was a good football team in 2017-18, and they still are. In terms of conference strength, the AAC is my pick as it is the best among the Group of Five.
With such teams as UCF, USF, Memphis, Cincinnati, Tulane and Houston, the AAC has given Power Five teams a run for their money enough times to count any matchup from the conference as a high-profile game. These are some logistically difficult games to pull off.
Many of these schools are located a significant distance from Auburn, so careful planning would be critical. While a rematch between Auburn and UCF is too good to pass up, a chance for the Tigers to play any of the AAC teams would be a riveting Week 1 matchup and a great way to get the 2020 season started.
5. The Big 12
I want Oklahoma, and Baylor for that matter. I certainly want Texas. Give me TCU. I’ll even take West Virginia or Texas Tech. The last time Auburn played a Big 12 team was a 2017 Sugar Bowl matchup against Oklahoma that Auburn lost 35–19.
The last time the Tigers even scheduled a Big 12 team in the regular season was against Kansas State on September 18, 2014, a meeting which Auburn won 20–14. I realize I have thrown reasonable logistics to the wind, but more Big 12/SEC matchups are something I would love to see.
Texas gets an opportunity to see if they are back. Oklahoma can get a chance to get an early leg up on the SEC. Baylor is looking for another chance at a playoff run. It’s a perfect storm, an excellent narrative for an opening weekend that has been left with so many doubts and questions.
The Big 12 wants to prove they are a conference with a bite to match their bark and playing Auburn in Week 1 would give any team in the conference a chance for a signature win on the season, while also giving Auburn a chance to do the same. Beneficial for both sides, if player safety could be guaranteed, I believe it to be a matchup to remember.
I hear the barbecue in Texas is amazing, so any chance to bring that to the Plains is a chance I’m willing to take.
While creating this list, I took to Twitter to ask Auburn fans who they would like to see us play in Week 1. After getting some responses, I decided to add Clemson as a fan pick.
Clemson is a matchup I would love to see for several reasons. As a team that has been at the forefront of playoff conversations since 2015, Clemson would be an excellent matchup to start the season off with playoff ramifications for both teams. A win for either Tigers squad would be a massive boost to their resume, offering an immediate signature win.
With a three-and-a-half-hour drive, Clemson would be a bit of a commute. Working out the logistics of that drive would be about the same as a Florida State matchup. Billing it as a Tigers vs. Tigers matchup would be a good choice for an SEC/ACC weekend, although we would run into the same problems as before since Clemson’s rivalry is already with South Carolina.
If it could all work out, I would enjoy seeing Clemson as much as any other opponent on this list. Trevor Lawrence is back with something to prove this year after the LSU loss in the 2019 National Championship, making this game the most stressful option on the list by a long shot.
Whether any of these options end up working out or if Auburn even reschedules a team at all for Week 1 will be a storyline to follow in the coming days and weeks.
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