Oregon (0-0) at Auburn (0-0)
When: Saturday, August 31, 2019
Where: AT&T Stadium,
Time: 7:30 ET | TV: ABC
Opening Odds: Auburn -3/57.5
The talk all summer long is how this opening week game between the Oregon Ducks and Auburn Tigers is key to the Pac-12’s success this season and that they really need a win here. Though I agree it is important for the Pac-12 to make a statement, I wouldn’t go as far as to say this is do-or-die. The Ducks come into 2019 with probably the most talented team in the conference and face a daunting schedule away from home in their quest to crack the top four in this year’s rankings. Oregon won four of their last five games to close the 2018 season including an ugly 7-6 win over Michigan State in the Redbox Bowl, and return potential No. 1 NFL Draft pick Justin Herbert at quarterback. Auburn finished 8-5 a season ago and started last year with a 21-16 win over Pac-12 opponent Washington, but went 1-3 in true road games including blowout losses to Georgia and Alabama. This year’s schedule sees both of those squads coming to Auburn while a total of six teams on their schedule are ranked inside the top 13 of the preseason poll. The Tigers will also start a freshman quarterback for the first time since 1946 in Bo Nix, whose father, Patrick, led Auburn to an 11-0 season in 1993 and is seventh in school history in passing yards. Auburn defeated Oregon 22-19 in the 2011 BCS national championship game on Wes Byrum’s 19-yard field goal as time expired in their only meeting.
Herbert, who is a big reason why Oregon has suck high expectations this season, threw for 3,151 yards, 29 touchdowns against eight interceptions in 2018 and has a talented group of wide receivers at his disposal. Freshman Mycah Pittman and Juwan Johnson, a transfer from Penn State lead the way. Ten starters return on offense including sophomore running back CJ Verdell, who ran for 1,018 yards and 10 touchdowns while catching 27 passes – two for scores – as a freshman. The Ducks defense should be better with the help of some transfers and will be led by senior inside linebacker Troy Dye, who led the team in tackles in each of the last three seasons. Oregon will host Nevada next weekend.
Auburn returns seven starters on both offense and defense and will rely on sophomore running back JaTarvious Whitlow (787 yards and six touchdowns) to take pressure off Nix. The Tigers did lose their top two wide receivers from a year ago so Seth Williams, who led the SEC in yards per reception at 20.5, should be the go-to guy. The Tigers defense is one of four units along with No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Alabama and No. 12 Washington to finish in the top 15 in scoring defense in each of the last three seasons and will be led by defensive tackle Derrick Brown, who decided to return for his senior season. Auburn ranked 14th nationally a year ago in scoring defense at 19.2 points per game.
Being a neutral site game gives Oregon a chance in this one, as Auburn starting a freshman QB without its two top receivers from a year ago scares me. The defense should be much better for the Ducks this season and will be the deciding factor in this Top 25 contest.
Pick: Oregon +3.5
Ducks are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games in August.
Ducks are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games.
Tigers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games on fieldturf.
Tigers are 3-7-1 ATS in their last 11 non-conference games.
Over is 4-1-1 in Ducks last 6 vs. SEC.
Over is 3-1-1 in Ducks last 5 games in August.
Under is 5-2-1 in Ducks last 8 games overall.
Under is 6-1-2 in Tigers last 9 neutral site games.
Under is 4-1 in Tigers last 5 vs. Pac-12.
Under is 15-5-2 in Tigers last 22 non-conference games.
Over is 5-2-1 in Tigers last 8 games on fieldturf.
Under is 12-5 in Tigers last 17 games overall.