The Auburn Tigers football program is entering what will hopefully be a bright future with new head coach Hugh Freeze. Freeze, of course, comes with a controversial background from his time at Ole Miss, where he was eventually found to have been involved in numerous scandalous recruiting violations. So, without a doubt, his hiring at Auburn was met with much criticism from opposing fans and analysts alike. Freeze will enter his first year with the Tigers coming from Liberty, where he spent the last four seasons. With a 74-47 record, Freeze has proven he has what it takes to win. The only question now will be whether he can do it cleanly while aiming to maintain success. That will be the storyline for most of Auburn this season as they look to improve upon their 5-7 record from last season. So, let's get into some bold predictions.
4. Auburn football will win more SEC games in 2023
A majority of the Tigers' losses came in the latter part of last season, where they lost five out of their last seven, although they won their last two. One of those wins was against Texas A&M, making it one of only two SEC wins for the Tigers last season. This year, the Tigers will hope to improve on that number, although winning games in the SEC is never easy.
Auburn football will secure a majority of their wins in the middle part of the season when they'll face Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, and Arkansas in a four-game stretch. This will be part of a challenging SEC stretch of games, starting with LSU. However, a win in Baton Rouge seems a lot less likely in Freeze's first year. It would be fitting for Freeze to then come back the next week at home and defeat Ole Miss, his former team. In addition to that, consider the Lane Kiffin rumors from last year that had the current Ole Miss coach leaving for Auburn. The crowd is likely to be hyped for this game. A win over the Rebels could spark momentum and lead to a strong run for the Tigers.
3. Auburn goes bowling
So, if Auburn can win more conference games, that would likely mean they'll go bowling this season, right? After winning only five games last season, with only two conference wins, the Tigers missed the chance to go bowling last year. It was the first time Auburn had missed a bowl game since 2012, when they went 3-9 for the year. With an easier out-of-conference schedule, which includes the likes of Cal, the Tigers could easily surprise and win 7, maybe even 8 games.
2. We'll get to see Robby Ashford in action in 2023
The Auburn football quarterback competition came down nearly to the wire, with Freeze and his staff eventually announcing that Michigan State transfer Payton Thorne would be the starter for the Tigers this season. In Thorne's time as a Spartan, he threw for 6,501 yards, 49 touchdowns, and 24 interceptions.
Apparently, the competition was a lot closer than most were thinking, according to Freeze himself. Eventually, Thorne managed to create enough separation from Ashford, as most had thought would happen after he announced his transfer from Michigan State. However, this season still has the potential to be long and grueling for the Tigers, as they seek to build a completely new identity from the previous regime. Whether it's due to injury or otherwise, Ashford still has a good chance of making some starts this season.
1. Hugh Freeze and Auburn make the Iron Bowl interesting
You can never predict rivalry games. Even if one team is ranked and the other isn't – which could very well be the case at the end of this season between Alabama and Auburn – the outcome could still be the unexpected. That's what makes rivalry games in college football so special, with the Iron Bowl game between Auburn and Alabama being near the top of the list as one of the best.
Even though hiring Freeze was met with hesitance due to his past issues, he was still highly sought after because of how good of a coach he was and still is. During his time at Ole Miss, he improved his team every season until the final year when violations surfaced. Even in just his first year at Auburn, we're likely to see the impact of Freeze's coaching efforts on the team, which will include facing Nick Saban and Alabama in the Iron Bowl.
As the head coach of Ole Miss, Freeze went 2-3 against Saban, with those wins coming in back-to-back seasons. Not many coaches can say they've achieved that against Saban. I'm not saying Auburn walks out of this game as winners of the Iron Bowl, but I believe they will make the game very interesting, enough to at least unsettle some Crimson Tide fans.