One of the primary reasons the University of Florida made it to the BCS National Championship Game this past season was its success on the road and the strength of the overall schedule. There has been plenty of discussion amongst Auburn fans about the Tigers' road schedule in 2007 as they face Florida, Arkansas, LSU and Georgia on the road. Those teams combined for a 43-11 record in 2006.
In recent history Auburn has found more success during even ending years, simply because of the conference scheduling. Last season Auburn defeated LSU and Florida at home but suffered major losses to Georgia and Arkansas. There is no reason to expect all four opponents won't be a major challenge on the road in 2007.
Under coach Tommy Tuberville Auburn is 23-16 on the road. Over the past five seasons, Auburn has improved its road record to 16-6 and an amazing 11-1 record over the past three years. Coach Tuberville has brought Auburn back into national contention and part of the reason has been its success on the road.
Over the past five years the University of Georgia has been the most successful road team in the conference. Georgia has won 18 of its last 21 regular season road games. Here is how the conference compares.
|South Carolina||11-12 (.478)|
|Ole Miss||6-19 (.240)|
|Mississippi State||3-21 (.125)|
During the last three seasons Auburn has swapped with Georgia as the No. 1 road team in the SEC. Thanks to coach Steve Spurrier, the South Carolina Gamecocks are making their presence known, moving up from No. 7 to No. 4 in the conference.
|South Carolina||9-5-0 (.643)|
|Mississippi State||2-10-0 (.167)|
|Ole Miss||2-13-0 (.133)|
Around the Nation...
Auburn's 11-1 record on the road over the past three seasons was tied for second best in the nation with Texas. Taking the top 10 teams in the nation based on their overall winning percentage over the past three years, here are their road records during that time period.
|Virginia Tech||12-1 (.923)|
|Southern Cal||14-2 (.875)|
|Boise State||13-3 (.813)|
|West Virginia||12-3 (.800)|
|Ohio State||10-4 (.714)|
Obviously strength of schedule should be factored into the equation but in this day and age of college football, all road games should be considered a challenge. From 1989 through 1998, the Florida State Seminoles posted the highest winning percentage in the nation with a 107-15-1 overall record. Of their 15 losses, 10 of them came on the road, which excluded bowl games. The Seminoles were 35-10 on the road during the regular season, but nowhere close to the home cooking at Doak Campbell Stadium.
From 1985 through 1994, the Miami Hurricanes posted a 107-13-0 record, which was the highest winning percentage in the nation. The Canes were 38-6 on the road, making them one of the most successful road teams in the country. The Nebraska Cornhuskers were 37-6-1 on the road from 1988 through 1997, making them one of the least likely to schedule at home. During that time span, the Big Red found it difficult to schedule a worthy non-conference opponent, simply because no one wanted the challenge of playing Nebraska.
Auburn's recent run of 11-1 on the road over the last three seasons is the best in school history from 1951-2004.
|1970-1972||9-1 (.900) / 11-2 including Alabama at Legion Field|
|1968-1970||9-2 (.818) / 11-3 including Alabama at Legion Field|
|1987-1989||9-3-1 (.731) including Alabama at Legion Field|
As long as Auburn continues to win at least 75 percent of its road games it should remain in contention for conference titles and 10-win seasons. Auburn is currently 44-12 at home under Tuberville and 29-7 in the last five seasons. The key to next season is winning them all at home and splitting the road games to put the Tigers in contention for a reservation in Atlanta. To likely confirm the reservation, Auburn needs to win at least three of the four road games in 2007.
Here are the average yards gained and allowed along with the average number of points scored and surrendered on the road.
|2004-2006||414 yards – 31 points,||331 yards – 16 points|
|1970-1972||370 yards - 29 points,||268 yards – 14 points|
|1968-1970||371 yards – 28 points,||238 yards – 13 points|
|1993-1995||430 yards – 29 points,||353 yards – 21 points|
|1982-1984||373 yards – 27 points,||340 yards – 20 points|
|1987-1989||318 yards – 18 points,||279 yards – 11 points|
Here is the strength of schedule for each three-year run at Auburn.
As Auburn ventures into the 2007 season, its success on the road will decide whether or not Auburn earns a bid to the Southeastern Conference Championship Game. Auburn is 7-6 against opponents with a non-losing record on the road over the past five seasons. The Tigers are 4-1 in the last three seasons, with the lone defeat coming to LSU in overtime during the 2005 campaign.
Auburn is finally at a position within the conference where they can finally match up with talent and overall depth every Saturday. Coaching and preparation are now the focal points in winning on a consistent basis. No matter how you stack the data, Tuberville's program has been one of the most successful programs in terms of overall winning percentage and winning on the road in the last three years. Maintaining this lofty status will once again make Auburn one of the most feared programs in the nation.