Saturday’s Ducks vs Tigers matchup is the only game featuring two ranked teams this weekend. However, it’s a huge game for both teams and especially the Pac-12 conference. Last year, the #16 Auburn Tigers defeated the favored Washington Huskies in a Pac-12 vs SEC battle. This year, Auburn hopes to do the same with the #11 Oregon Ducks. Oregon is a preseason favorite to win the Pac-12 and make a run at the playoffs. They will need this win in order to accomplish either. Kickoff inside AT&T Stadium for the Ducks vs Tigers game is at 7:30 PM ET.
|Betting Data||Oregon Ducks||Auburn Tigers|
|2018 ATS Home||2-5||3-4|
|2018 ATS Away||2-3||1-3|
|2018 O/U Home||3-4||3-5|
|2018 O/U Away||2-3-1||2-3|
These two programs have only played against each other once in their respective histories. That game was the 2011 BCS championship where Cam Newton led the Auburn Tigers to a 22-19 victory over Chip Kelly’s Oregon Ducks. The Tigers kicked a game winning field goal as time expired to break the tie and win the championship. This Auburn team isn’t nearly as talented as that championship team, but some would argue that this season’s Oregon Ducks are just as good, if not better than the runner-up squad from 2011.
Oregon (0-0) finished 9-4 last year, which was a two-win improvement over the 2017 season. They started off 5-1 on the season before going 4-3 the rest of the way. The Ducks defeated Michigan State 7-6 in the RedBox Bowl to cap off a strong return to relevancy. Led by QB Justin Herbert, and returning 17 starters on both sides of the ball, this team has plenty of talent and experience to be the best in the Pac-12.
Auburn (0-0) had a mediocre year in the SEC last season. However, they did punctuate the season with a 63-14 victory over Purdue in the Music City Bowl. As mentioned above, Auburn also defeated Pac-12 heavyweight Washington Huskies in Week 1 last year, but would only go 1-3 against ranked opponents the rest of the season. The Tigers return 14 starters and feature a stout defense. Expectations are high for the Tigers to compete in the SEC and to finish with double digit wins.
The spread for this neutral site game opened as high as 6.5 points in favor of Auburn at most college football betting sites. However, as we’ve approached game week, the spread has come down to 3.5 points in favor of the Tigers at the majority of online betting sites. The over/under opened at 58 points, but it has also come down significantly to 55.5 total points.
Auburn will rely on freshman dual-threat QB Bo Nix to lead this offense. He was a highly recruited QB and appears to be just what Auburn wants at the QB position. However, they do lack passing weapons as the team’s top receivers are gone. I expect the Tigers to lean more on their above average rushing attack with Whitlow and Martin.
The strength of this Auburn football team is clearly their defense. They have one of the best defensive fronts in the country, which features a potential Top 10 NFL Draft pick in DT Derrick Brown. The secondary returns most of the starters from last year, but the linebackers lack depth as all three starters from the 2018 season are gone.
Oregon’s defense won’t be as great as Auburn’s, but they could end up being far better than what anyone expects. Last season, the Ducks turned their defense around and they are returning most of the starters. Keep in mind, the Ducks’ defense held Michigan State to just 6 points in the RedBox bowl game. They will also feature last year’s #1 recruit in the country as defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux takes the field. The Ducks secondary had 17 picks last season and their top playmakers of that unit will be back. Lastly, leading tackler Troy Dye will anchor the linebackers in what should be a top-notch unit.
Despite having an improved defense, all eyes will be on the Oregon Ducks offense and Heisman hopeful QB Justin Herbert. Many pundits thought Herbert would’ve left school for the NFL Draft this year, but the captain decided to return for his senior season. He finished 2018 with 3,151 passing yards, 29 TDs, and just eight interceptions. I expect Herbert to surpass those numbers this year. The Ducks have most of their passing weapons back, feature the best offensive line in the conference with all five starters returning, and four of them are already pegged as NFL draft picks next year.
Oregon is 4-2 ATS and 6-0 SU in their last six games during August, 4-2 ATS and 4-2 SU against the SEC, and both 3-1 SU and 3-1 ATS as an underdog at a neutral site game. Auburn is 3-7 ATS in their last 10 non-conference games, 10-13 ATS in their last 23 games played on a Saturday, and 11-14 ATS in their last 25 overall games.
I believe that Oregon has the offensive line to handle Auburn’s front four. The Ducks also have a talented defense that will harass Auburn’s freshman QB Bo Nix all day long. Most importantly, Oregon has the best player on the field in QB Justin Herbert. He will be the difference in this game and lead Oregon to not only covering the 3.5 point spread, but also winning the game outright.
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