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SEC Football Preview 2014: Auburn's Schedule Goes Back and Forth

The Tigers won't have any time to settle into a homefield or traveling routine this year. Will that make any difference as they try to defend their SEC West title?

John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes, schedules are just quirky. And there is an odd quirk in this year's Auburn schedule, though I'm not sure it's going to matter much when it comes to wins and losses. The Tigers don't have back-to-back home games or back-to-back road games after Oct. 4. The schedule from there goes road-home-road-home-road-home-road. They never have three games of any kind in a row, which is good from the standpoint of never having to travel three weeks in a row but bad when you consider they'll never have a three-game homestand. Even if you're skeptical about how much of a difference homefield advantage makes (I am), that's something to keep in mind with the Tigers.

Mixed bag. The Tigers start off with an SEC game, but one that might not be that big of a challenge. Just depends on what you think about the Hogs this year. The Gus Malzahn "revenge" factor already seems to be old hat now, perhaps because of his tour of duty as the offensive coordinator on the Plains. The following week marks the first meeting between Auburn and San Jose State. A lot of people have the Kansas State game circled as a possible loss out-of-conference for the Tigers; the Wildcats are generally projected to do relatively well in the Big XII this year, though Auburn is perfect in three games against Kansas State so far (for whatever that's worth, which probably isn't much). The Tigers are an even more impressive 11-0-1 against Louisiana Tech.

Picking up speed. LSU was the only team to beat Auburn during the regular season last year, and it wasn't even a particularly close game; the Bayou Bengals won by 14 points after taking a 21-0 lead in the first half, and led by 21 points at one point in the fourth quarter. One would imagine that with the game in Jordan-Hare, there will be a few revenge storylines in this one. The game against Mississippi State was one of the "lucky" wins of 2013, but whether that means the Bulldogs can pull the upset is another question entirely. The South Carolina game might be a preview of the SEC Championship Game, though the Gamecocks should probably hope not -- the last time that happened, it ended with the most lopsided title game in the history of the event.

The stretch run. By this point, Auburn will have already played LSU, Mississippi State and South Carolina -- and you could still make the argument that their SEC schedule is back-loaded. The November slate is one of the prime reasons to believe that the Tigers won't get to Atlanta this year: It features Georgia, meaning that Auburn will have played both of the front-runners for the SEC East, as well as games against three SEC West teams that could all be tricky in their own ways. But if the Tigers can manage to get to the Iron Bowl undefeated or with one loss, and Alabama can do the same, that will kick (six) the ESPN hype machine into overdrive.