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Greg McElroy taps Auburn as SEC favorite

Greg McElroy Nick Saban AP

When it was announced that Greg McElroy would be taking on the role of analyst on the fledgling SEC Network, there were some — including Auburn fans — wondering how unbiased (or biased) the former Alabama quarterback could and would be.

At first blush, it doesn’t appear bias will be an issue for McElroy.

During a radio interview Tuesday, McElroy was asked about the SEC West race in 2014. ¬†Not so surprisingly, McElroy went with one of the teams that played for the final BCS title — and is the most bitter of his alma mater’s rivals — as his favorite to come out of the West.

“Once quarterback situations are established at LSU, at Alabama — and Ole Miss is also kind of a scary team out in the West as well,” McElroy said. “Bo Wallace comes back and some of the things they were able to do. The West is wide open and it’s difficult, but I definitely think the Auburn Tigers are the favorite.”

McElroy makes solid points when it comes to the quarterback situations at the two schools that¬†should serve as the Tigers’ chief competition in 2014 and, yes, I’m dismissing Ole Miss. Both Alabama and LSU are replacing veteran starters, three-year starter AJ McCarron for the former and two-year starter Zach Mettenberger for the latter. On the flip side, Auburn returns its starter, Nick Marshall — the first time, incidentally, Gus Malzahn has returned the same starter from the season before during his nine years as a coordinator or head coach at the FBS level.

In fact, Malzahn being on The Plains factors significantly in McElroy’s pick for SEC West frontrunner.

“I think he’s the most innovative play-caller in college football,” McElroy said of Malzahn. “I think he’s a tremendous football coach and he’s had a lot of success over the course of his career and what they did last year was really special, so I think they are the frontrunners without question at this point.”

(Tip O’ the Cap: al.com)

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4 Responses to “Greg McElroy taps Auburn as SEC favorite”
  1. tidebarrister says: Apr 22, 2014 6:43 PM

    I’m an Alabama alum as well and agree with McElroy, but it won’t be smooth sailing for Auburn like many think and for three main reasons.

    (1) Auburn played the 2013 season with no pressure. After their disastrous 2012 season, most Auburn folks (if they’re telling the truth), were hoping for a 7-5 or 8-4 season at best. Auburn had the benefit of little to no expectations during the 2013 season and was always the “Hunter,” never the “Hunted.” There’s a big difference in how you play/perform with pressure than when there’s no pressure.
    Ask Alabama.

    (2) Auburn will surprise no one in 2014 unlike they did in 2013. Every team that plays Auburn will spend their offseason planning how to stop the spread offense. A huge part of Auburn’s success in 2013 was their being an unknown quantity. They’re not unknown anymore and won’t surprise many teams offensively. That doesn’t mean that Auburn will lose, but they won’t win as easily either.

    (3) The biggest obstacle however is Auburn’s late season schedule, as two of their last three games are on the road against Georgia and Alabama. Both of those teams will have extra motivation to beat Auburn after suffering crushing defeats in 2013. Road wins are difficult in any conference, but especially in the SEC. Think about it for a second . . . Auburn’s only loss in 2013 came where? On the road to LSU in Baton Rouge. Also, Georgia and Alabama won’t have inexperienced QBs by the time they both play Auburn, as both teams will have played 10 or 11 games at that point and when you play 10 or 11 games, you’re no longer inexperienced. I don’t see Auburn beating both Georgia and Alabama on the road.

    Should be a fun season. Roll Tide Roll!

  2. 8to80texansblog says: Apr 22, 2014 9:22 PM

    @tidebarrister

    I don’t know how anyone thumbed down that. That was very well said and great points.

  3. irishdodger says: Apr 22, 2014 11:16 PM

    Read these blogs on the NBC Sports Talk app & you don’t even see the thumbs up/down. I forget about it, until I read people mention it in the Comments section.

  4. Romulus says: Apr 23, 2014 1:05 AM

    If auburn had a really good defense, they would be the favorites to win it all. We’ll see. Tough schedule though. K state, thuga, and Alabama ole miss, and miss st. on the road.regardless that offense is going to be great.

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