College football schedule week 2: Auburn Tigers at Cal Golden Bears
9:30 PM CT on ESPN
Let’s get weird.
We have Hugh Freeze coaching one of the most bipolar programs in college football taking a trip out to the West Coast to play a team that next year will be in a conference made up of teams on the Atlantic Coast.
What could go wrong?
Auburn is obviously in the process of turning things around after Bryan Harsin’s disastrous tenure. And in true Auburn fashion, they ignored all semblance of reason and morality to hire a man who’s shown on numerous occasions that he is not at all mature enough to lead a football program.
But personal feelings towards Freeze aside, the guy recruits his butt off (and will likely thrive as NIL programs are a common and legal practice), scores a lot of points, and gives Alabama fits. Basically, he’s all Auburn wants in a coach. And he’s probably going to win a lot of games on the Plains.
The Tigers got off to a hot start under Freeze, demolishing Week 0 CFB Champion UMass 59-14. Hard to take anything away from it given the opponent, but it’s certainly better than what we saw from Auburn last season.
Cal is attempting to engineer their own sort of turnaround with Justin Wilcox now in his 7th season as HC. Wilcox had things trending upwards through three seasons, but with Cal’s brutally harsh COVID restrictions in 2020 and the advent of NIL and the transfer portal (two things that work heavily against the Bears), things have turned sour quickly.
But this could be a bounce-back season for Cal.
The defensive-minded Wilcox finally decided to open things up on offense by hiring Jake Spavital as OC. Spavital comes from the Air Raid tree and was Cal’s play-caller the last time they fielded a productive offense back in 2016.
And if Week 1 was any indication, Spavital is getting the Bears back to putting up points. They went on the road and demolished North Texas (who was a trendy upset pick going into the game) 58-21, throwing for 312 yards and rushing for 357. Now UNT’s defense is probably bad, but this was the best offensive performance Cal has had since Wilcox became HC in 2017.
Auburn is much more talented than Cal. Auburn should probably win this game comfortably. But this is still a very long road trip and late night kickoff for a team that has a ton of new pieces and is still finding it’s way. And Hugh Freeze has been prone to some head-scratching losses throughout his tenure.
Things could absolutely go sideways.