The marquee match-up of the first full weekend of college football betting kicks off Saturday, and the contest could have a major impact on the College Football Playoff. Washington and Auburn meet for the first time ever in the Chik-fil-A kickoff on Saturday, Sept. 1.

Washington made the college football 4-team playoff in 2016, but the Huskies lost in the Peach Bowl semifinals to Alabama. The Huskies were strong again last season starting the season 6-0 SU before suffering a stunning loss at Arizona State 13-7 as a -17.5 point favorite. Washington would finish the regular season 10-2 SU before losing to Penn State 35-28 as a slight favorite in the Fiesta Bowl. Still, the Huskies are the clear favorite to win the Pac-12 North and Pac-12 championship this season with coach Chris Petersen looking to return the team to the College Football Playoff again in his fifth season in Seattle.

With senior quarterback Jake Browning returning as the most accurate returning QB in the country, along with senior RB Myles Gaskin (1,428 rush yards & 28 TDs), the Huskies appear to be in good hands despite a rebuilding wide receiver corps and a new offensive coordinator and play caller, Bush Hamdan, who was Washington’s WR coach and passing game coordinator in 2016. But it’s the Huskies dominating defense that should deliver, as Washington returns 9 defensive starters from a unit that allowed less than 300 yards per game and 16 points per game last year. The Huskies defense has been improved and stout each of the last three seasons while allowing less than 19 point per game each year.

Chik-fil-A Kickoff Game – Saturday, September 1st (3:30pm ET)
Auburn Tigers -140 | -1.5 (-115) | O 49.0 (-115)
Washington Huskies +115 | +1.5 (-115) | U 49.0 (-115)

Auburn was a win away from making the College Football Playoff last season, but lost 28-7 to Georgia in the SEC Championship game. That game followed Auburn’s huge rivalry win over Alabama 26-14 to give the Tigers the SEC West title and a shot at the CFB Playoff. Coach Gus Malzahn is an offensive guru and starts his sixth year leading the Tigers. Jarrett Stidham decided to return for his junior season after passing for more than 3,100 yards last year. The Tigers do have some changes along the offensive line, and it’s Auburn’s defense that has been much stronger the past two seasons to provide balance to the offense that has averaged better than 31 points and 440 yards per game each of the past two seasons.

The Chik-fil-A Kickoff Game begins 3:30pm ET and will be televised nationally on ABC from the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia!

While each team features a top-tier QB and talent on offense, it’s the defenses that are the stronger units. The total opened 54 and has been bet down to as low as 48.0 (though it’s moved up recently to 49.0), as sharp bettors recognize and respect the two defenses. That’s especially true along the defensive lines that will slow the run and put pressure on the quarterbacks. Tough opening assignment for both teams and especially the offenses, and we prefer the short underdog Huskies to get the neutral site win in a lower scoring contest.

Chik-fil-A Kickoff Game Free Pick – Washington +1.5 or ML (UNDER)