What is Auburn’s Ceiling and Floor in 2023?
After a ton of speculation throughout the offseason, Auburn finally brought in a new quarterback on Friday. With Payton Thorne coming in from Michigan State and almost a guarantee at this point to begin the season as the Tigers starting quarterback, it now begs the question: what can Auburn accomplish as it enters a new era?
Not only is it in year one of the Hugh Freeze era, but as it appears, it is year one of the Payton Thorne era. So what is the ceiling, and what is the floor for Auburn record wise as it embarks on a new journey. For starters, their non-conference schedule is Charmin-soft and should really breed all wins.
Auburn opens with UMASS at home before a trip to Berkeley to see California which should both be wins. They then return home for Samford, so it should be a quick 3-0 start for Hugh Freeze before it starts to get tough. His first SEC game in his return to the conference sees a road matchup in College Station against Jimbo Fisher and the Aggies. Call this one a tossup.
Then it’s a loss against Georgia at home before a trip to Baton Rouge. A win in College Station is almost critical, because if not, it could very easily be 3-3 for Auburn quickly. It gets lighter after this, with two home games against Ole Miss and Mississippi State before Vanderbilt on the road. They win 2 out of these three.
Then it’s at Arkansas in another tossup, New Mexico State at home, and a home Iron Bowl. I give Auburn a great shot in any Iron Bowl at Jordan-Hare, and they could beat Arkansas as well. So when looking at the ceiling (which it’s important to remember is a best case scenario), I would say 9-3 or 8-4. This would be a phenomenal result for Freeze in year one.
When looking at the floor (worst case scenario) this would mean they lose games like A&M, Ole Miss, Arkansas, maybe Mississippi State, certainly the Iron Bowl, and heck, even Cal on the road. 6-6 or worse feels like the worst case with this schedule.
Vegas has the total set at 6.5 for the Tigers, and with this schedule, I am more than inclined to lean towards the over here. Especially after the addition of Thorne, who should add a steadying presence in the QB room, it’s hard to see year one being a complete failure for Freeze.
And with the matchups they have, any less than 7 wins would in fact be a complete failure.