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Auburn starts its SEC schedule this Saturday (11 am CT) coming off an embarrassing 41-12 loss against Big Ten foe Penn State two days ago at Jordan-Hare. Byran Harsin’s squad dropped 11 spots on the ESPN College Football Power Index after the defeat in the rematch against the Nittany Lions.
ESPN developed the College Football Power Index in 2013 to predict game and season outcomes. FPI also measures team strength. The index ranked Auburn #11 during the preseason. Before the win against Mercer, ESPN’s FPI said the Tigers had a 91.5% of winning at least six games.
The Tigers have a 30.6% chance of winning at least six games, according to the latest FPI rankings. Auburn also has a 0% chance of winning out, winning the West, or a possible Southeastern Conference title, again according to the lastest rankings.
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Because of their demanding schedule, the preseason FPI had Auburn finishing the season with 7.4 wins to 4.6 losses. ESPN’s College Football Power Index projects a 4.9-7.1 record for Auburn this season. ESPN uses over 20,000 simulations to get to these numbers. FPI ratings for teams based on anticipated offensive, defensive, and special teams elements.
Auburn dropped to #27 after beating Mercer and to #40 after a not-so-convincing win against San Jose State before the Penn State debacle. The Tigers are #51, one spot below Appalachian State, who needed a hail mary to beat Troy and a slot above 3-0 Kansas.
Auburn scored one touchdown against Penn State, which leads an offensive efficiency ranking of #77. The defense is rated lower at #102 in America, and the overall efficiency is 91st. ESPN bases its overall efficiency rankings on incorporating offense, defense, and special teams efficiencies into a single schedule-adjusted measure of per-play efficiency.
Defensive ratings are based on the defense’s contribution to scoring margin on a per-play basis, adjusted for the strength of opposing offenses. The offense is charted on its contribution to scoring margin, similar to the defensive metrics.
In layman’s terms: Auburn hasn’t shown consistency on offense or defense. The Tigers have to get better on both sides of the ball if they’re going to win games. Auburn had four turnovers against Penn State and was 2-4 in the red zone, both field goals. There are several areas where the Tigers must improve if they’re going to overcome the Penn State loss.
“In my opinion, everyone is going to have some type of disappointment at some point. We still have a long season ahead of us and there’s a lot of football to play,” Harsin said. “What we do moving forward, it’s going to be the key to our success. I think our guys understand that. The coaches understand that, but we have to get it done at the end of the day. That’s really what it comes down to.”
Tiger fans looking for some optimism can take solace in the FPI, giving Auburn a 72% chance to beat Missouri in a pivotal home game.
“We will have our guys, in this week’s preparation, ready to go play against Missouri on Saturday. But, I do want to thank everybody for playing the game and what they brought,” Harsin said. That was awesome. Now, we have to go out there, we have to put the time and work in. We have to make sure we are prepared to go out there and play the way that we all hope we can play. Those are the expectations and the standards we have for this football team.”
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