COLLEGE FOOTBALL | TOP 25 COUNTDOWN
No. 10 Auburn
9-4, 5-3 SEC (defeated Clemson, 23-20, in overtime in the Chick-fil-A Bowl)
8 offense, 7 defense
vs. Louisiana State, Sept. 20
Player to Watch
Sen'Derrick Marks, junior defensive tackle
Auburn lost three key components from last season's line, forcing Marks to move from end to tackle. Marks recorded 43 tackles in 2007, the most among returning linemen, and will look to bolster the team's defense against the run.
Why They're Worth Watching
Over the decade in which Coach Tommy Tuberville has run the show at Auburn, he has employed 10 coordinators. This season, the Tigers once again will have new offensive and defensive coordinators, though the former likely will have a more visible impact this season. Tony Franklin will implement the spread offense he utilized at Troy, a transition that should go more smoothly once Auburn decides on a quarterback. Sophomore Kodi Burns led the team to victory in the Chick-fil-A Bowl last December, and his ability to make plays with his feet as well as his arm makes him dangerous. Junior Chris Todd spent two seasons at Texas Tech before transferring and is more familiar with the spread offense. Todd also is more familiar with Franklin -- he was a quarterback at Elizabethtown (Ky.) High when Franklin was an offensive consultant for the school -- and might have an edge in the preseason competition.
Why They're Vulnerable
The spread offense certainly will be entertaining for Auburn fans to watch, just as soon as Franklin can completely install it. How quickly that will happen is another matter. Auburn ranked 97th in the nation in total offense last season. Had the offense been able to keep up even a little with the defense (No. 6 in the country), Auburn might have been playing for higher stakes during last year's bowl season. The Tigers have ample talent available. Running backs Ben Tate and Brad Lester combined to rush for 1,433 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. Wide receiver Rodgeriqus Smith tallied 52 receptions for 705 yards and five touchdowns. However, Franklin has said he would prefer the team have 10 reliable options at wide receiver, a mark that will not be reached until some of the freshmen become familiar with their coordinator's schemes. The offense will need to jell quickly before Franklin learns firsthand how unforgiving an SEC schedule can be.
-- Steve Yanda
No. 9 Clemson.
No. 25 Arizona State, No. 24 Alabama, No. 23 California, No. 22 Penn State, No. 21 Wake Forest, No. 20 Wisconsin, No. 19 Tennessee, No. 18 Oregon, No. 17 Illinois, No. 16 Kansas,
No. 15 BYU, No. 14 Virginia Tech, No. 13 South Florida, No. 12 Texas Tech, No. 11 Texas