While there are numerous intriguing matchups for Week 1 of the NCAAF regular season, there’s little doubt about what the marquee matchup is. A pair of Top 25 squads will face off underneath the primetime lights at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX as the Oregon Ducks face the Auburn Tigers.
Last season, the SEC’s Auburn kicked off the year with a meeting with another Pac-12 power on a neutral field. The Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta was the sight for a clash between the Tigers and Washington Huskies, who entered the game ranked 9th and 6th respectively.
Auburn was a 1-point favorite at kickoff, and they would need a 4th quarter TD to come from behind for a 21-16 victory. For this contest, the Tigers open up the season ranked 16th in the nation, while the Ducks check in at 11th.
Once again,, Auburn is the favorite for a showdown with one of the Pac-12’s best, but this contest is looking like an incredibly close one which has ‘game of the day’ written all over it. Let’s dig in and take a look at this tilt, starting with where the lines currently stand.
Oregon vs. Auburn, 7:30 PM EST, Sat. August 31, ABC
Betting odds provided by: Sportsbetting.ag
Oregon vs. Auburn pick:
Oregon opened up 2018 by shellacking visiting Bowling Green to the tune of 58-24. The team was home for the next tow weeks as well, picking up double digit wins in both contests. Competition ramped up the following week when Stanford came to town. The Cardinal would escape with a 38-31 overtime win.
The Ducks had mixed results for the next month. Back-to-back wins over California and Washington was followed by consecutive losses to Washington State and Arizona. It was a tough stretch which included games against three ranked squads. Oregon went 2-1 in those contests.
Auburn followed up the win over Washington with a home drubbing of Alabama State by a score of 63-9. A 1-point home loss to LSU followed, but the Tigers got right back on track and won the next two games. The team would struggle to open the month of October.
The Tigers lost two straight, one on the road versus Mississippi State and the other at home versus Tennessee. The club bounced back to close out the month on a high note. They took a trip to Ole Miss and won a convincing 31-16 decision.
|Auburn||8-5||3-5||402||249||W1||5-SEC West||NA||W-Music City|
Entering the final month of the season, Oregon stood at 5-3. Two of the losses had come at the hands of ranked teams, but the third was an embarrassing 44-15 road defeat at Arizona. The Ducks got it together in November, winning three of their final four games to close the season at 8-4.
The team was watching the Pac-12 Championship game with the rest of us. However, the regular season record was more than good enough for a bowl invite. Oregon squared off with Michigan State in the RedBox Bowl, picking up a 7-6 win in a defensive-minded affair.
Auburn also entered November with a record of 5-3. They faced a gauntlet of a schedule to close things out with games versus three ranked squads. The Tigers went 1-2 in those contests, beating Texas A&M while losing to Georgia and Alabama.
A 53-0 home pounding of Liberty was thrown in for the team to finish at 7-5. The team would go on to face Purdue in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl. The offense was wide awake for this one as the Tigers crushed the Boilermakers by a score of 63-14.
In a nutshell, Oregon was the stronger offensive squad in 2018 while Auburn was more stout on defense. On the average points for and points allowed metrics, the Ducks ranked 25th and 63rd in the nation respectively. The Tigers checked in at 48th and 18th.
This will be the 2nd full year as head coach for Mario Cristobal at Oregon. The offensive coordinator returns, but Andy Avalos has joined the staff to lead the defense. Justin Herbert returns to lead the way on offense. He’s a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender and will be working behind an experienced line with good talent around him. Avalos is expected to improve a unit which has talent but needs a spark.
The major pieces of the coaching staff remain in place at Auburn, but head coach Gus Malzahn found his seat getting toasty last year. Freshman signal caller Bo Nix has won the starting gig. All five starters return on the offensive line, but questions abound elsewhere on offense. The defense is stacked and should be stout once again.
These two programs last hooked up for the 2011 BCS National Championship Game. The venue was the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glenville. Auburn was a 2-point favorite at kickoff for the meeting of two undefeated squads. It was all tied up at 19 apiece late in the 4th quarter. A 19-yard Tigers field goal attempt sailed through the uprights as time expired to give the team a 22-19 win and the national crown.
Last season, Oregon had a mark of 5-8 against the spread and 5-7-1 on totals. For Auburn, it was 6-7 ATS and 5-8 on the Over/Under. The Ducks were 2-3 ATS as underdogs in 2018, while the Tigers were 6-5 ATS as favorites.
As of this writing, Auburn is a 4-point favorite for this highly-anticipated neutral site affair. Overall, the SEC is a much more powerful conference than the Pac-12. However, the difference between these two teams isn’t as stark.
The Ducks get the edge on offense, but the Tigers are the better defensive program. Oregon’s defense could be more effective with a new DC in charge, and they’ll be facing off with a freshman QB. While Auburn’s defense is typically solid, they’ll also be facing a Heisman contender who is looking to impress.
This matchup is a lot closer than the spread indicates. We like Oregon plus the points, and an outright upset wouldn’t surprise us in the slightest.