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Auburn and head coach Gus Malzahn took the football world by surprise in 2013, going 12-1 over the course of the season and the SEC championship, and landing in the national title game where they lost in the final seconds to a very good Florida State team. Malzahn took over a 3-9 team that no one expected to have a winning season, let alone almost win the National Championship. A testament to Malzahn and his offensive schemes.
Auburn looks to be in decent shape as we approach the 2014 season. They lost some key starters, such as running back Tre Mason, but do return 8 starters to the offense and 6 to the defense and hopes continue to be high for the Tigers. 5 dimes sportsbook has the over/under for Auburn wins in 2014 at 9.5 and they are also currently listed as -21.5 point favorites in their opener against Arkansas on August 30th.
The feeling here is that Auburn takes a bit of a step backwards this year. Maybe just a small step, but a backwards step nonetheless. Auburn wasn't a dominant team last year. Good yes. But also beatable. They beat Washington State by 4, Miss State by 4, Lost by two TD's to LSU, beat Ole Miss by 8, Texas A@M by 4, Georgia by 5 and who could forget the Alabama game. None of which is a knock against Auburn, but heading into this season, we'd be very surprised if some of those close wins don't turn into losses this year.
The schedule would seem to be somewhat cooperative for a successful, winning season. The Tigers could very well be 4-0 heading into their October 4th showdown at home with LSU and a chance to avenge their only regular season loss from a year ago. But their only automatic win on their dance card the rest of the way would be Samford on November 22nd. Every team on their schedule from LSU on, had a winning record last year and they have to play Georgia and Alabama on the road.
From a betting standpoint, the under 9.5 wins prop available at 5 dimes looks to have some value. We'd also consider taking Arkansas +21.5 in week one and we'd suggest doing that sooner rather than later as that number isn't likely to remain for long. We'd also circle the Alabama game in what should be the revenge game of the year for the Tide on November 29th.
All in all it should be a successful, winning season for Auburn and a spot in one of the better Bowl games is likely. But we don't see an SEC title and certainly no National Title in 2014. This looks like a 9 win team at best. There's simply too many tough, close games on the dance card to expect a repeat performance from a year ago. 2013 was the perfect storm. Lightening rarely strikes twice.
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