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Louisville vs. Auburn Pick – CFB September 5th

The opening weekend of the 2015 college football season features what is expected to be an entertaining intra-conference matchup on Saturday afternoon (3:30 pm ET) at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA featuring the Louisville Cardinals of the ACC coached by Bobby Petrino, and the 6th ranked Auburn Tigers of the SEC coached by Gus Malzahn. Louisville finished with a 9-4 record last season and concluded the season with a 37-14 loss to then 13th ranked Georgia in the Belk Bowl. Auburn finished with a 8-5 record last season and ended the season with a 34-31 loss in overtime to Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl.

The Cardinals have not yet named a starting quarterback for this game from among the trio of Reggie Bonnafon, Will Gardner and Kyle Bolin and Petrino may play multiple QBs in this game. Their offensive line is expected to be a strength this season, and it better be in this game against a rejuvenated Auburn defense that is now led by former Florida head coach Will Muschamp. The Cardinals bring back explosive players up front in Sheldon Rankins and Pio Vatuvei and has potentially its best linebacker group with hard-hitting James Burgess, Keith Kelsey, Keith Brown and former Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Devonte Fields, a transfer from TCU.

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The Tigers lofty ranking this season is not based on their stellar performance last season, but rather on the expected improvements they are making on the defensive side of the ball. Muschamp is not the only key addition for the TIgers, they also will be welcoming back defensive end Carl Lawson who missed last season with an ACL injury after a stellar freshman season in 2013. Malzhan also has dual-threat QB Jeremy Johnson to run his offense this season, Johnson whose size and athletic ability have drawn comparisons to former Auburn signal caller Cam Newton. He has a much stronger arm than the Auburn QB for the last two seasons, Nick Marshall, and Malzahn should have the most wide-open playbook he has had since he came back to coach the Tigers.

Louisville vs. Auburn Spread, Line and Betting Odds:

Spread:
Louisville Cardinals +10.5
@ Auburn Tigers -10.5

Game Total:
Over 58 (-110)
Under 58 (-110)

Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv

Louisville vs. Auburn Pick:

Louisville is 5-2 ATS in their last 7 September games. Auburn is 5-2 ATS in their last 7 neutral site games, 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games against ACC teams and 0-4 ATS in their last 4 non-conference games. The over is 3-0-1 in Louisville’s last 4 games on fieldturf and 4-1-1 in their last 6 games overall. The under is 8-2-1 in Auburn’s last 11 games against ACC teams.

The trends against the spread do not clearly favor either team, and with these meeting for only the second time ever and the first time since 1974, there is no head-to-head history to provide a basis for comparison. The thinking here is that with two very skilled offensive play callers and a fast track in the climate-controlled environment of the Georgia Dome, this should be a high-scoring affair. Johnson should have a big game for Auburn, but with the Tigers defense as yet unproven, it is hard to recommend taking Auburn to cover in this game. Louisville has skilled personnel on defense, but they will be seriously tested by Malzahn’s playcalling here. The total is the more optimum play here with offense the only sure thing for either team. Expect to see a lot of points scored this Saturday afternoon, take the over here.

PICK-Over 58