Two of the top teams in the nation will duke it out on Saturday, August 31 when the #11 Oregon Ducks clash with the #16 Auburn Tigers at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. We have odds and a pick for this eagerly anticipated showdown.
|Oregon||+3.5 (-110)||+150||O 54.5 (-110)|
|Auburn||-3.5 (-110)||-180||U 54.5 (-110)|
It’s an easy pick when an SEC school matches up with just about any other conference, especially the Pac-12, right? Not so fast. Heisman hopeful Justin Herbert (3,151 yards, 29 touchdowns) is back for his senior season at Oregon, opting to play one more year instead of entering the NFL draft.
Herbert’s decision to stay in Eugene makes Oregon a potential contender for the College Football Playoff, especially with all five starting offensive linemen returning and the No. 7 recruiting class in the nation, featuring ESPN’s No. 1-ranked overall player, defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux.
Justin Herbert is looking to make some big plays this season, just like this 50-yard strike 🚀
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) August 16, 2019
Oregon also picked up Juwan Johnson, a Penn State transfer, in the offseason. The two-year starter for the Nittany Lions suffered through injuries last year, but his 2017 season at Penn State showed promise, as he caught 54 passes for 701 yards.
To help improve the Ducks’ defense, which allowed 25.4 points per game in 2018, Oregon hired new coordinator Andy Avalos, formerly of Boise State, who took over for Jim Leavitt in March, right before spring practice.
Defense is one issue Saturday’s opponent, Auburn, doesn’t have. However, the Tigers must improve in other areas in order to better last year’s 3-5 record in the SEC and 8-5 record overall. Gus Malzahn faces pressure to bounce back and reclaim the 10-win glory he accomplished in 2017 and will lean on an underclassman to do so.
A little over a week ago, the Tigers finally named their starting quarterback, Bo Nix, who will become the first true freshman to start at quarterback for the Tigers since 1946. He’ll take over an offense in a bit of rebuilding mode after Ryan Davis, Auburn’s career reception leader with 178, and Darius Slayton (670 yards, 5 TDs) left for the NFL.
— Auburn Football (@AuburnFootball) August 20, 2019
The defense will be Auburn’s advantage in Saturday’s neutral-site game in AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The Tigers ranked in the top 20 in scoring defense last season and bring back linemen Derrick Brown (26 tackles, 4.5 sacks) and Marlon Davidson (20 tackles, 2.5 sacks), plus nickelback Javaris Davis (36 tackles, one sack).
Still, Oregon has the experience and talent to play at an elite level in a prime-time television slot and will overcome Auburn for a three-point victory at the end of regulation.