In Gus Malzahn’s first season as head coach at Auburn, the Tigers did something fairly miraculous, jumping from 3-9 in 2012 to 12-2 and a berth in the national championship game last season.
But Year 2 brings a new challenge for Malzahn.
Gone is running back and Heisman finalist Tre Mason, who’s now a member of the St. Louis Rams, and defensive end Carl Lawson, who will miss most (if not all) of the 2014 season after having surgery to repair his ACL.
Auburn doesn’t lack talent — quarterback Nick Marshall is back and should be a Heisman candidate, WR Sammie Coates was Bruce Feldman’s No. 1 Freak for this year, the RB group has plenty to replace Mason — but questions remain as to whether the Tigers can put together a defense formidable enough to return to the national championship.
Put simply: Is Auburn a playoff team in 2014 or a team primed to drop back?
On a new edition of "The Audible," Bruce Feldman and Stewart Mandel discuss the Tigers (22:40 mark), the Big Ten (5:30), Top 25 surprises (16:25) and more.