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Dr. Saturday’s Way Too Early Top 10: No. 4 Auburn

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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The 2014 season might be eight months away, but it's never too early to start thinking about the teams that could challenge for the new College Football Playoff. This week, we'll count down Dr. Saturday's Top 10 teams for 2014. Past entries: No. 10: LSU, No. 9 Stanford, No. 8 Oklahoma, No. 7 UCLA, No. 6 Michigan State, No. 5 Ohio State

Auburn Tigers
2013 record:
12-2, 7-1 SEC
Final AP ranking: 2

Bowl result: L 34-31 Florida State, BCS National Championship

Top returners: QB Nick Marshall, TE C.J. Uzomah, C Reese Dismukes, WR Sammie Coats

Top losses: RB Tre Mason, DE Dee Ford, CB Chris Davis, FB Jay Prosch, OT Greg Robinson, K Cody Parkey, P Steven Clark

Overview: Auburn had one of the most unprecedented turnarounds under first-year head coach Gus Malzahn and Year 2 could be even better. The Tigers lose star running back Tre Mason and offensive lineman Greg Robinson, but return nine other starters and several others with starting experience.

And another year in this offense can only help quarterback Nick Marshall, who excelled in the running game, but struggled throwing the ball. If he can use the offseason to become a better passer, Marshall could be one of the most dangerous dual-threat quarterbacks in the SEC.

Marshall will get a lot of help in the running game by Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant, who combined for 1,257 yards and 12 touchdowns in backup duty behind Mason.

The Tigers also need to get better defensively. They lose five starters from a defense that was the weak point of the squad, including star defensive end Dee Ford and cornerback Chris Davis. The Tigers’ defense struggled in the latter half of the season allowing 35.5 points per game against Georgia, Alabama, Missouri and Florida State. Even though only one of those games was a loss, the Tigers did need miracle plays against Georgia and Alabama to pull out those wins.

And they can’t rely on miracles in 2014.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at dr.saturday@ymail.com or follow her on Twitter!

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