Louisville – Auburn Football Pick

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Louisville

vs.

Auburn

Week 1

College Football Pick

9/5/15

Despite finishing 8-5 last year with Four losses in its last five Games, Auburn comes into the 2015 season as the No. 6 ranked team in the nation. To live up to that ranking, the Tigers will need to comfortably win their opener against Louisville. The Tigers are a -10.5 point favorite at 5 Dimes for the Game taking place in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.

Auburn no longer has Nick Marshall at quarterback, but new starter Jeremy Johnson isn’t expected to be much of a step down. Johnson may not be as mobile as Marshall, but his value is more as a pure passer. Johnson hasn’t played much over the years as Marshall’s backup, but it’s well known that he’s accurate and there’s no reason this offense will drop-off. In fact, head coach Gus Malzahn believes it can be better with Johnson leading the way.

The Tigers will have some new faces elsewhere, although that may be for the better. They return guard Alex Kozan from injury and bring in center Austin Golson from Ole Miss on the line. The backfield lost Cameron Artis-Payne, but it’s still loaded with talent in Jovon Robinson, Roc Thomas and Peyton Barber. The same can be said about the receivers even with Sammie Coates and Quan Bray gone. Duke Williams and Ricardo Louis look in like to be Johnson’s top targets.

Even going against a new QB, Louisville’s defense will probably run into some issues, considering they only return Four starters on that side of the ball. There’s no doubt this will still be a stout unit for the Cardinals, but when faced against SEC competition last year, they didn’t have much success (40 points allowed vs. Kentucky, 37 points vs. Georgia).

To compete in this Game, the Cardinals will need whomever its QB will be to show some kind of consistency, although that may not even be possible. Louisville may use multiple quarterbacks in this Game with dual-threat Reggie Bonnafon and pocket passer Will Gardner the frontrunners. Obviously, that will be tough for Auburn’s defense to prepare for, but there is a Four-man QB race because none of those guys have separated themselves. Sure, the Cardinals scored 31.2 points per Game in 2014, but struggled against the better teams they faced, such as a 37-14 loss to Georgia in the Belk Bowl.

Even with that, top wide out DeVante Parker is gone as well, which doesn’t help. Brandon Radcliff and Michael Dyer return in the backfield, although the offensive line is a little inexperienced.

Auburn hasn’t had a good defense in a while, but that may change this season with the addition of coordinator Will Muschamp. The Tigers return eight starters and get back Carl LAwson, one of best pass rushers in the SEC, from injury.

If Johnson is as good as Malzahn believes he is, Louisville could be in for long day, especially if they don’t get their quarterback situation figured out. The Tigers will almost undoubtedly be better on the defensive side this year, which will cause problems for the hit-or-miss Cardinals offense. Auburn would like for Johnson to get a nice win under his belt before travelling to LSU in a couple weeks for an early-season showdown.

Our Pick – Louisville coach Bobby Petrino is known for having his teams ready to play on opening day. That being said, he has his work cut out for him this year with a Louisville squad that lost tons of talent.

Auburn on the other hand, is loaded and clearly the superior team in this spot. We’re never crazy about laying double digits but we think that’s the way to go in this one. At the time of this writing, we see a -10 at betonline. We’ll lay it. Auburn -10
 

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