With Auburn in the final group of teams wrapping up this week’s Southeastern Conference Football Media Days, that is a sure sign the college season is just around the corner. The Tigers will be starting full squad practices the first week in August and begin playing games about a month later.
New head coach Bryan Harsin and his staff will ease into the season with a Sept. 4th home opener vs. Akron Zips, an opponent that has struggled in recent seasons. After playing the Zips the Tigers will be at home vs. the Alabama State Hornets before making their first-ever road trip to Happy Valley, home of the Penn State Nittany Lions.
The Zips and Hornets don’t have a legitimate shot at defeating the Tigers so those games offer an opportunity to work out kinks as both the Auburn defensive and offensive players continue to adjust to new systems as well as new coordinators.
The game at Penn State will likely give the coaches and fans a good read on the team’s strengths and weaknesses before the Tigers move into SEC play with a road trip on Oct. 2nd to LSU. Like Auburn, the Nittany Lions are looking to rebound from a disappointing 2020 season and like Auburn they return a healthy number of talented players.
Unlike Auburn, Penn State will be tested early with its opening game on Sept. 4th at Wisconsin prior to a much easier game two at home vs. Ball State before the Tigers arrive in State College, Pa.
Auburn’s trip to Baton Rouge to face LSU will come a week after its final non-conference game, a very early Homecoming contest on Sept. 25th vs. the Georgia State Panthers. The matchup vs. Georgia State will be Auburn’s final tune-up before things get really challenging with eight games vs. SEC opponents during a nine-week stretch.
From the Notebook
• On his way to play in this week’s U.S. Junior Amateur golf tournament at Pinehurst, N.C., recent Auburn signee Ruben Lindsay and his father visited the campus where the 17-year-old from Ayr, Scotland plans to enroll in January. Lindsay, who is ranked as the No. 1 junior golfer in Europe, is a recruit Coach Nick Clinard is very excited about having on his team and Lindsay says he is looking forward to attending Auburn as both a golfer and student.
• On the subject of golf, former women’s team All-American Cydney Clanton earned a nice paycheck on Sunday when she and her partner in the doubles event took home $137,674 for their second place finish in the LPGA’s Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational in Midland, Mich. In 2019 playing the same event, Clanton earned her first LPGA championship, a big deal for a player who turned pro in 2011.
• The best chance for an athlete with Auburn connections to win an Olympic gold medal this year belongs to incoming freshman Sunisa Lee, who begins women’s gymnastics competition on Saturday for Team USA. In addition to having a shot at a team gold medal, the 18-year-old will have a chance to win individual medals, especially in bars, an event she won at the United States Olympic Trials.
Mark Murphy is the editor of Inside the Auburn Tigers magazine and newsletter.