This Game is arguably the biggest one of opening weekend between two top-10 teams. Both schools have their eyes on winning their respective conferences and making the College Football Playoff. Winning this Game would only enhance those chances. Playing in Atlanta at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Auburn is a -2.5 point favorite at YOUWAGER Sportsbook.
Coming off a successful, yet disappointing 10-4 campaign, the Tigers are aiming to get back to the SEC title Game and in turn make the CFP. While Jarrett Stidham returns under center, Kerryon Johnson is gone from the backfield along with Four linemen. That’s the first problem for the offense, although a major step back isn’t likely with plenty of talent coming in. Kam Martin can be just as good at running back and Stidham still has top wide out Ryan Davis (84 receptions) to work with, as well as speedster Darius Slayton (22.2 yards per catch). Getting the line back to last year’s levels will be the biggest task and playing Washington in the opener won’t help.
The Huskies excel on the defensive side with nine starters back from a group that allowed 16.1 points and only 298 yards per Game. The secondary is one of the best in the country and will be a problem for Stidham. If the run defense is just as good as last year even without Vita Vea on the line, Auburn could have trouble moving the ball. Of course, Washington had trouble against better offenses last year, like those of Stanford, Utah and Penn State.
Either way, the Huskies will be in this Game because the offense is set for another stout campaign behind quarterback Jake Browning and running back Myles Gaskin (1,380 yards, 21 TDs), both in their Fourth years as starters. Browning’s numbers were down with 19 touchdowns last year, but he was still efficient completing 68.5% of his passes. Similar to the prior year, he’ll have to find a new top receiver and that’s likely to be junior Hunter Bryant. The line is filtered with experience and that is what could give UW the edge in this Game. If Gaskin can churn out yards and Browning is efficient like usual, the Huskies should move the ball.
Auburn has a few new pieces in the secondary, which could benefit Washington, but it also has one of the best defensive lines in the nation. Marlon Davidson, Derrick Brown and Dontavius Russell are a top trio the Huskies will have problems blocking. If those guys create havoc, this Game could be lower scoring than some think.
Both of these teams will compete at the top of their respective conferences all season due to quality on both sides of the ball. The Huskies have to travel a little more for this one and that’s why the Tigers have a small edge in the odds. With slightly more experience, Washington has the advantage, but on a national level, this team has often disappointed and that’s why backing Auburn could be a more popular route for bettors.
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