Don't believe a single thing an "expert" or "analyst" thinks about Auburn entering this season.
If there's a talking head who is blabbering confidently about the Tigers before Week 1, then that person is not to be trusted with money or horses.
Auburn is a mystery to even Auburn right now, and what happens next is anyone's guess.
This much is certain, though. There isn't a more unpredictable team in the entire country right now than Gus Malzahn's Tigers.
Same old question: Is this finally it for Malzahn?
It has to be asked. Even before the season starts.
These days Auburn's dysfunctional tendencies are its most consistent trait.
The athletics director who hired Malzahn is long gone, of course, but the president who gave him an extension is now collecting buyout payments, too. Oh, and how could we forget the manufactured offseason nonsense about Malzahn agreeing to a reduced buyout so it would be easier to fire him.
Some people will believe anything they read.
It's best not to believe anything about Auburn until that first snap against Oregon. We just don't know.
Malzahn could go 7-5 and be looking for a new job in January, or Auburn could go 10-2 and he could get a contractual bonus. Either scenario wouldn't really surprise me. Not after what we've seen.
And that's just off the field.
Somehow, the football is even more perplexing.
Malzahn scored wins against undefeated Georgia and Alabama with a first-year quarterback in 2017, but lost to perpetually rebuilding Tennessee at home with the same player the following year. Jarrett Stidham then turned pro, and was drafted by the New England Patriots.
Is Stidham the next Tom Brady? He's looking pretty good in the preseason so far.
Meanwhile, Malzahn "mutually parted ways" with another offensive coordinator.
With Malzahn, nothing is ever consistent except the drama.
So, is it redshirt freshman Joey Gatewood at quarterback for Malzahn to start the season, or true freshman Bo Nix? Malzahn probably isn't going to name a starter until game time in Arlington, Texas, for the season opener against No. 13 Oregon.
Both quarterbacks fit the Malzahn mold (dual-threat quarterbacks with excellent athleticism), and both are completely inexperienced at the collegiate level. Oh, and they're facing arguably the most difficult schedule in the country (ranked No.2 by Phil Steele in the preseason).
Nothing about this season is going to be easy, is it?
And Auburn is front and center nationally for Week 1 of the season.
The Ducks might be highly ranked, but they are not favored. The Tigers opened as a 6.5-point favorite. Since then, all the money has gone to Oregon and dropped the line to Auburn by 3.
It seems the oddsmakers have more confidence in Malzahn's new offense than anyone else.
Typical, unpredictable Auburn.
Best advice you'll read: if you value your money, then stay away from that game. Those who say they know are lying.
When everyone seemed to be running away from Malzahn this offseason, his best players rallied around him and returned to school. Malzahn might have lost some of his fans last season, but he never lost that team. If nothing else, that should give Auburn fans a little confidence right now.
Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson and Nick Coe are three of the best defensive linemen in the country. Combine that front-line muscle with a secondary that returns every starter, and this Auburn defense, coached by coordinator Kevin Steele, should be able to give Auburn's freshman quarterbacks time to learn on the job.
Or, Auburn could hang 50 on Oregon, make the Ducks quack like Purdue in last season's bowl game and march into Texas A&M a few weeks later as one of the scariest teams in the country.
If you think that's impossible, then you just haven't been paying attention.