Game of the Week Preview: The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry

The History

This is one of my favorite rivalries in all of sports. From memories like The Miracle at Jordan-Hare, to the countless meetings that eventually decided an SEC champion, no matter what the circumstances, this game is important and both teams seem to bring a little more to the table in this game each year.

Offense

Bo Nix vs Kentucky

Both teams are led by star studded, but young and generally unproven quarterbacks. Bo Nix is playing in his second Auburn-Georgia game. Last year, he was 30/50, for 245 yards and 1 touchdown. He also had 13 carries for 42 yards and a touchdown with one lost fumble. J.T. Daniels on the other hand, was just cleared to play at Georgia and has yet to play an SEC game. He was highly touted out of high school, committing to play at USC, but it did not work out and now he goes into his first game as a Georgia Bulldog. Expect to see a lot of power running, and a lot of talented play makers at wide receiver. The connection to look for will be Bo Nix to his best wide receiver Seth Williams. This duo linked up for two touchdowns last week against Kentucky. The offenses will score points, but the question is which defense will get the stops.

Defense

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When you think defense you think of the SEC, and when you think of SEC defenses, you have to mention Auburn and Georgia – two of the top five defenses in the SEC last year, and they’re looking to do it again. Typically, Auburn’s defensive line is the focal point of their defense, and this year is no different. They are young, but Big Kat Bryant is the veteran stud in the lineup this year. Also, they return a lot in the back seven, including all three starting linebackers from a year ago. Georgia also has a strong defensive unit at all positions. The star is Richard Lecounte, their safety, who racked up a pair of interceptions in Georgia’s season opener.. Both defenses are going to make a lot of stops, and I think whoever forces the most turnovers wins this game.

The Keys To Victory

I believe the quarterback play will decide the outcome of the game. Bo Nix vs J.T Daniels. I have Nix winning this matchup due to his experience and his dual-threat skillset, so I am going with Auburn winning 27-17, but I think it will feel even closer throughout the game.

Best SEC Bets – Week 2: If Kentucky is playing, bet the under

Last week, our team went 6-4 with our recommended SEC bets, part of a 14-8 overall performance to kick off our year. A $10 bet on each of our selections would have net a $60-65 profit, depending on the exact odds when you laid down your money. So, after a decent first week, we’re back with another set of recommendations, now that we’ve seen every team in action. Be sure to check out our “Money Minute” episode on Instagram (@college_talking) where Nathaniel Lapoint and 1 other member of our team offer their top 3 picks each, regardless of conference.

Best SEC Bets

Ole Miss @ Kentucky, UNDER 61.5, Ole Miss +6

I know Ole Miss was impressive on offense last week, but this is a pretty stiff Kentucky defense that is tough to pass the ball against. And while Ole Miss’s defense is pretty porous, Kentucky doesn’t exactly light up the scoreboard. Last week, they held the ball for over 21 minutes in the first half and came away with just 7 points. I’d be surprised if Ole Miss can put up more than 30, and I’d be stunned if Kentucky matches that. I’m pretty shocked the O/U is this high, and I’d absolutely take the under in this matchup.

I’m also posting the double-bet in this contest, as given Ole Miss’s high-powered offense last week, I don’t see Kentucky scoring enough points to cover a 6-point spread. I could be wrong, but if the Rebels can put up 24-28 points, I find it hard to believe that Terry Wilson and a one-dimensional Kentucky offense notch between 30 and 34. The Ole Miss moneyline is +185 and definitely an intriguing bet, but with Kentucky playing at home, I’m not going that far at this point.

Arkansas @ Mississippi State, UNDER 69.0

Yeah, I know, you can save me your “But the air raid” comments. This over/under is like Big 12 territory, and the reason Big 12 totals run so high, is because every offense (except Kansas) is generally capable of putting up 40 points. Arkansas is (usually) not. They didn’t score more than 27 in any SEC game last season. Arkansas held Georgia in check for a half on offense last week, and I just am not comfortable betting on Mississippi State to put up 45-50 points. I think that’s what will be needed, as I don’t see Arkansas notching much more than 20. This just isn’t an SEC over/under total, and Akransas’s offense is too bad to make me even think about the over.

Auburn (+7) @ Georgia

Auburn won by 16 against a ranked Kentucky opponent, while Georgia needed to bench their quarterback and rally from a halftime deficit to defeat Arkansas, who hasn’t won a SEC game since 2017. If Georgia’s J.T. Daniels is given the start under center, that will make it three quarterbacks in two games for the Bulldogs, who were already experiencing a lot of turnover on the offensive side of the ball. Bo Nix and the Auburn offense looked effective – if not explosive – against a stingy Kentucky defense, and I anticipate they can keep this contest a one-possession clash. In my eyes, worst case scenario here is a one-touchdown win for Georgia and a push on this spread.

Episode 47: Central Arkansas AD Brad Teague Talks Scheduling Football During COVID

In the latest episode of our twice-a-week podcast, we brought on two guests. First, we welcomed Central Arkansas athletic director Brad Teague – Teague has had an extremely busy fall, putting together a 10-game schedule for the Bears, with just 14 FCS teams playing. The unique season opened up opportunities for games with 3 FBS opponents, and a road trip to FCS powerhouse North Dakota State. Teague joined our show to discuss these challenges.

We also welcomed former Navy football linebacker Tyler Goble, who joined as our guest picker of the week, celebrating the start of the Commander-in-Chief Trophy series this weekend, as the Midshipmen travel to take on Air Force. Check out a packed episode, as we break things down with our two guests and offer up a preview of this week’s action!

Rattler’s Youth A New Challenge For QB Guru Riley

When the odds came out for this past weekend’s college football games, and Oklahoma was listed as a 28-point favorite against Kansas State, I thought it was absolutely ridiculous. Kansas State may have looked bad in their season opener, but they beat Oklahoma last season, and the Sooners’ Spencer Rattler was making his first start against Power-5 competition. Rattler has been much hyped as a darkhorse Heisman candidate, due partly to his talent level, which is clearly high, but also due to Lincoln Riley, the ‘QB whisperer’. Riley has produced a Heisman finalist in each of his four years as the Oklahoma head coach, including two winners. One potential factor, brought up by many analysts, was that each of those prior quarterbacks had been transfers. 

Despite the question marks, Rattler quieted many doubters in his debut as a starter, dicing up an inferior Missouri State offense for 290 yards and four touchdowns in just one half of play. Yes it was Missouri State, but Rattler hardly looked wowed by the collegiate stage. It looked like more of the same in the early going against Kansas State, as Rattler posted a 17-19 stat line, tossing three touchdowns. However, those two incompletions fell into enemy hands, as two interceptions kept Kansas State in the game. The second pick led to the Wildcats’ only scoring drive of the half, as the Sooners led 21-7 at halftime. 

Oklahoma kept up the pressure at the start of the second half, racking up two more scores to go up 35-14 with 2:46 to go in the third quarter. 

If you’re a Sooners’ fan…look away now,. 

After taking a 21-point lead, it took a total of 13 snaps for their advantage to be narrowed to a single touchdown. The Wildcats utilized a 78 yard pass to score in three plays. They forced a fumble on Oklahoma’s next possession, and then they punched in another touchdown, grinding it out on a 8-play, 38-yard drive. Suddenly, it was 35-28, but Rattler still had an advantage, and the ball. 

To be fair, it wasn’t just Oklahoma’s redshirt-freshman quarterback that melted on Saturday, but he didn’t inspire anyone with his clutch-time performance. He went 2-5 on the ensuing drive, getting to midfield before stalling out. A blocked punt set up the Wildcats for another touchdown to tie the game, and Oklahoma got the ball back with 8:17 left in the game. Rattler completed one of three passes there, taking a bad sack on third down, which led to Kansas State getting great field position at their own 40. The Wildcats banged through a field goal, but hope wasn’t yet lost for the Sooners. 

Rattler and Co. would get two more chances with the ball. But neither possession was a productive one, as the Sooners went 3-and-out and punted it away. They got one more shot, starting at their 24-yard line, but Rattler was picked off on the second play of the drive, securing the stunning comeback upset victory for the Wildcats. All-in-all, after taking a 35-14 lead, Rattler completed 4 of 13 passes for 65 yards, throwing an interception and taking one very ill-timed sack. Prior to that, he was 26 of 28 with four touchdowns. 

The takeaway? Rattler is really good – but he is also really young. The talent was clearly there in his impressive early numbers, but the poise and clutch gene appeared to be lacking in a horrific finish to the game. Essentially, he’s young. Thus, Lincoln Riley, who has been elite with a varied batch of transfer quarterbacks, must now prove his mettle in mentoring a quarterback with virtually no collegiate experience. Rattler’s three interceptions was the most by an Oklahoma quarterback since 2014, before Riley arrived in Norman. It’s an entirely new challenge for the QB Whisperer. And he doesn’t have a lot of time to figure this one out. Oklahoma travels to Iowa State on Saturday, and the Cyclones are getting hyped up for the primetime clash, breaking out their all-black uniforms that they are 3-0 all-time in. They are not an easy game, and no one can be taken lightly after Oklahoma lost to K-State, who was 0-1 with a loss to Arkansas State. Following Iowa State? It’s the Red River Rivalry and another Texas-Oklahoma classic. 

Rattler’s got talent. But it takes more than just raw talent to survive in College Football, particularly in the offense-heavy Big 12. Can Riley work his magic once more, or are the Sooners done in 2020?

College Kids Talking College Sports Week 4 Power Rankings

The SEC jumped back into action this week, two top-6 teams fell, and overall, the college football world was a chaotic, beautiful, mess this past weekend. As usual, after the weekend’s slate of games, our team got together and voted on our official Top 10 (plus a few honorable mention) power rankings.

Honorable Mention

  • UCF
  • Penn State
  • Oklahoma State

#10 – Cincinnati Bearcats (Last Week: NR)

The Bearcats did not get off to a great start, as a mishandled pitch led to a defensive touchdown for Army on the game’s first drive. However, Cincy controlled the game after that, limiting a potent Black Knights’ rushing attack, while grinding out 24 points against a very tough defense. Army entered the game having given up 7 points in two games and ranked #22 in the country, so this was a pretty sweet win for Cincinnati, who are looking to secure a NY6 Bowl Game, and, maybe in some chaotic universe, a longshot CFP bid.

#9Texas Longhorns (Last Week: 10)

The Longhorns didn’t look particularly impressive, but they still rise a spot due to the losses of Oklahoma and LSU. Texas trailed by 15 to Texas Tech with under four minutes remaining, but a touchdown, onside kick recovery, second touchdown and a two-point conversion sent the Longhorns to overtime, where they ended the Red Raiders’ upset dreams. It wasn’t reassuring, but in a wild conference that already saw Kansas State upset the Sooners, any win is critical. Texas also may have an inside track to the CFP if they can defeat Oklahoma in the regular season and eliminate their archrivals from Big 12 title contention.

#8 – Miami Hurricanes (Last Week: NR)

The Hurricanes are gaining more and more believers every week. D’Eriq King has looked elite under center in Miami, and Cam’Ron Harris adds great rushing production. They’ve been dynamic on offense, and their defense is opportunistic and completely shut down an anemic FSU offense this past weekend. The Hurricanes rolled 52-10 and have now outscored opponts 130-58 over three games. A date with Clemson looms in two weeks.

#7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Last Week: 7)

The idle Irish gain no ground this week, as they’re still another ten days away from their next game, a home clash with Florida State. A COVID outbreak has halted football activities for the time being, but the Irish hope to begin practice again in a day or two, with an eye towards recaturing the momentum from their 52-0 stomping of USF.

#6 – Georgia Bulldogs (Last Week: 4)

The unofficial, but kind of official, policy is that if you are losing to Arkansas at halftime, you will drop in the rankings. Although Georgia figured it out for a comfortable 37-10 win, that ugly 7-5 scoreline at the end of the second quarter isn’t easy to forget. The defense looked very good, but the offense was out of sync and uncomfortable for a long period of time. The return of USC transfer J.T. Daniels will hopefully help, but we’ll find out really soon, when the ‘Dawgs take on Auburn this weekend.

#5 – Auburn Tigers (Last Week: 6)

Auburn needed a while to pull away from the #23 Kentucky Wildcats, but ultimately, they did so en route to a 29-13 victory. They only led 8-7 at halftime, but that was pretty impressive given that they held the ball for barely over 8 minutes of game time in the first two quarters. Bo Nix and receiver Seth Williams helped liven up the offense in the second half, striking for three touchdowns to help seal the game away. Their offense faces a very stiff defensive challenge in their road trip to Athens to take on Georgia this weekend.

#4 – Florida Gators (Last Week: 8)

The Gators are our biggest riser of the week. They also take advantage of the multiple top-10 upsets this week, and their thrilling offensive performance was very impressive on Saturday. The defense left much to be desired, but a 51-point effort from the Gators on offense, along with 6 touchdowns from quarterback Kyle Trask, stole the show. While Georgia struggled to put away the Razorbacks, it looked like Florida may have established themselves as the team to beat in the East.

#3 – Ohio State Buckeyes (Last Week: 5)

There was some hesitation on where to rank the Buckeyes, as we kept them a little lower last week. But with the recent upsets, and the Big 10’s official inclusion on the AP Poll, it feels right to slot Ohio State in as the third best team. They’re going to be dangerous in 2020.

#2 – Alabama Crimson Tide (Last Week: 2)

No major alarm bells were sounding in Alabama’s clean 38-19 win over Missouri. Najee Harris ran for three touchdowns, while Mac Jones posted a QBR of over 95, the highest mark in the SEC for the week. Missouri outscored the Alabama bench by 10 points in the final frame to make the score seem a little closer, but this one was never in doubt. Combined with LSU’s loss and Texas A&M’s shaky performance against Vanderbilt, Alabama established themselves as the clear SEC West favorite early in the season.

#1 – Clemson Tigers (Last Week: 1)

Clemson was off after a 2-0 start, but they don’t slip from their perch atop the rankings. They’ve been very impressive early on against inferior competition, and they’ll look to tune up against Virginia before an October 10th showdown with the Miami Hurricanes.

Heisman Tracker: The SEC Makes Its Entrance

We are back with this week’s Heisman Tracker, and the SEC has jumped into the picture! For those new to our Heisman Tracker, this list is exclusively based on 2020 performances to date. No preseason hype factors in, meaning that Justin Fields won’t appear until at least after October 24, and the ACC has a slight advantage right now do their early start in conference play. Because of this, the SEC’s top players will need another week or two to challenge the top of our list, but that doesn’t mean the conference is unrepresented in this version of the tracker. Let’s get into it:

The Finalists 

  1. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson,
    Lawrence remains atop the rankings after an idle week. Last week’s #2, Spencer Rattler, had a chance to overtake him, but a 3-interception performance and second-half collapse doomed both the Oklahoma Sooners, and potentially Rattler’s Heisman hype. Lawrence has been a very efficient 30-37 for 519 yards, 4 touchdowns, and no interceptions on the season. He’s also run for three scores as well, giving him as many all-purpose touchdowns as incompletions. 
  2. De’Eriq King, QB, Miami
    Miami finished last year ranked 90th in the country in points per game, notching barely over 25 a contest. This year, albeit only three games in, the Hurricanes are averaging over 43 points per game, ranking 12th in the country. They looked strong in a road victory against a ranked Louisville squad in their second game, and they followed it up with a 52-10 bludgeoning of Florida State. King has been a huge reason, as the Houston transfer is completing passes at a 66.7% rate, throwing for 733 yards and 6 touchdowns. On the ground, King has added 157 yards and a TD on 5.6 yards per carry. He’s got a clear path to being #1 on this list…beat Trevor Lawrence and the Clemson Tigers in two weeks. 
  3. Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas
    Texas may have underwhelmed in their overtime victory against Texas Tech, but it sure wasn’t because of Ehlinger. The Longhorns’ signal-caller directed his offense to 63 points, including a miraculous 15-point comeback in the final four minutes. He’s tossed 10 touchdowns (plus a score on the ground) to just one interception, while completing passes at a 71% clip. He’s back up into finalist territory, and with Oklahoma’s loss, he and the Longhorns have a clear path towards a Big 12 championship and possible CFP berth. 
  4. Kyren Williams, RB, Notre Dame
    This is almost certainly Williams’ last week as a finalist. He’s been the best player on a top-5 team with multiple victories, which allows him to keep his spot. Averaging 8.4 yards per touch, Williams has been very impressive for the Irish, rushing for 174 and adding 103 receiving yards, notching a pair of touchdowns. That also comes with limited minutes in Notre Dame’s second game, a 52-0 blowout of USF that saw most of the first-string pulled a series or two into the second half. 

Heisman Hopefuls

  1. Kyle Trask, QB, Florida
    Trask immediately threw his hat into the Heisman ring on Saturday, throwing for six touchdowns and no interceptions in his season debut. A grain of salt has to be given, due to Ole Miss’s pretty abysmal defense, but Trask picked apart the Rebels’ secondary to the tune of 416 yards on 30-42 passing. Another strong performance against South Carolina this weekend could very well vault Trask another couple spots on this list. 
  2. Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
    Harris is one of the top RBs in the country, and he immediately made his presence felt, despite only accumulating 17 touches in Alabama’s blowout season-opening win against Missouri. Harris posted 106 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns, as the Crimson Tide won by 19, ahead of their home clash with #13 Texas A&M. 
  3. Richard Lecounte III, S, Georgia
    Let’s give out some love to defensive stalwarts on our list. Lecounte was the best player on the field for Georgia in a generally underwhelming season opener against Arkansas. The Bulldogs only put up five points in the first half, two of them coming via a defensive safety. Lecounte meanwhile, helped keep Georgia in the game, snaring a pair of interceptions, defending another pass, and recording another three tackles in a strong all-around performance. 
  4. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
    Etienne was surpassed by Harris, at least in the early going, but he remains on our top 10 list, as Clemson’s second player on the tracker. Clemson was off this past weekend, but Etienne is averaging 7.9 yards per touch, with 228 all-purpose yards and one touchdown through two games. 
  5. Dillon Gabriel, QB, UCF
    UCF is averaging 50 points per game, ranking fourth in the nation, and quarterback Dillon Gabriel has been front and center in their offensive onslaught. He’s tossed eight touchdowns in two games to just one pick, throwing for 825 yards on 59 of 88 passing. He’s unlikely to gain any real Heisman hype, particularly with no Power-5 games on the docket for UCF, but Gabriel has been dominant to start his campaign. 
  6. Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
    Pitts solidified his status as the best tight end in the country with an outrageous 4-touchdown, 170-yard performance against Ole Miss, as he quickly became a favorite target for Trask to hit. Without Pitts’ presence, it may have been a lot tougher to pull away from the Rebels on Saturday. It’s tough for receivers or tight ends to get Heisman hype, as the quarterback usually receives twice the attention, but Pitts’ efforts this past weekend deserve the attention. 

Others Considered

  • Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
  • Cam’Ron Harris, RB, Miami
  • Joshua Moore, WR, Texas

6 and 7 Game Seasons? Pac is Back? What Is Going On In College Football?

Barely over a month ago, the hopes for a college football season seemed dismal at best, and completely dead at worst. The Pac-12 and Big 10 had cancelled, as had the Mountain West and MAC, leaving just six of ten FBS conferences ready to play in the fall. Rumors were that the ACC were close to folding, but the resolve of Notre Dame to both play and join the ACC temporarily gave that desire new life to start playing. The FBS season kicked off on September 3rd, with Miami taking on UAB, and we’ve since seen three weekends of college football. There have been hiccups – Baylor has seen four different games called off due to coronavirus concerns, and certainly the season has not gone off without any problems, but the return of college football is real, and it’s feasible that everyone else will be back soon as well.

Yesterday, there we’re several announcements regarding the Pac-12 and Mountain West, which are intending to return to the fall football scene, albeit with shortened schedules. That followed up the Big 10’s announcement that they hope to resume play in late October, and overall, it’s been an absolute whirlwind in college football. Here’s a brief rundown of what’s going on:

The Pac-12 is back, playing a 7-game schedule

As of now, the plan is that the Pac-12 will return on November 6, and they’ll play a 7-game schedule that includes the conference championship. Teams play the five teams within their division, and one crossover game. On December 19, there will be a title game played, with the non-qualifiers playing an additional crossover game to round out their schedule. The full schedule will be released in a couple of days.

To this point, there is no indication of whether they are ineligible for the College Football Playoff, which could lead to some interesting debates if Oregon, or perhaps USC, goes 7-0, but they have to compare there resume with a mix of SEC, ACC, and Big 12 teams that have played 10 or 11 games. Simply being eligible will be key for the Pac-12, as that at least entitles them to the Power-5 payout, which last year was 66 million per conference.

The Mountain West and Big 10 pick up the same timeline

The Mountain West conference elected to take the same schedule format as the Big 10, beginning an 8-game slate on October 24, with their conference championship on December 19. With two 6-team divisions, it’s unclear what the specifics of the schedule will look like, but ultimately, the biggest factor here is Boise State. The Broncos are the only consistently good team in this conference, and they are a yearly challenger for the Group of 5’s spot in the New Year’s 6.

A notable exception at this point is the Air Force academy. Despite the Mountain West’s cancellation the Falcons had gone ahead with their plans to compete in their two-game series with Army and Navy. While their clash with Navy is scheduled for October 3rd, their game with the Black Knights is slated for November 7, which would be the third week of the Mountain West season. That potential dilemma was not mentioned by the Mountain West in their announcement today.

What about the MAC?

The MAC remains the only FBS conference to not have a fall season in place, but this could change soon as well. They were the earliest conference to postpone their season, doing so on August 8, but sources say they are planning on holding a presidents’ meeting, where the plan is to vote on a season. As of now, the rumors are circulating around a potential 6-game season in the MAC, which would officially get all FBS conferences into play. The MAC doesn’t have a nationally relevant team, with their best overall record last season coming from Buffalo, who finished 8-5. Regardless, at this point, it would be very strange for the conference to attempt to go solo and play a spring season by themselves, so expect some shortened season announcement to be coming soon.

Best Big 12 Bets This Weekend

The Big 12 gets back into the swing of conference play this weekend, and it’ll be nice to see how some of these teams stack up against each other. The conference as a whole has not had great coverage over the first two weeks, as they collapsed versus the Sun Belt, and Oklahoma State didn’t look good in barely putting away Tulsa last week. The narrative is that it’s Oklahoma’s conference, Texas is pretty good, and it’s a lot of nothing after that, so we will see if anyone can shake that perception. That being said, let’s take a look at some of the best Big 12 bets to make this week. As with our SEC and ACC bets, nothing here includes odds better than -200.

Texas @ Texas Tech, OVER 70.5

This over/under probably would have had to have touched 80 before I would have considered betting the under. Texas dropped 59 points on UTEP in their opener, while Texas Tech gave up a horrific 33 points to Houston Baptist. Texas’s defense was not strong last year, and while I anticipate an improvement, I still think Texas Tech has the offense to put up around 30 points. But I’d also be betting on the Longhorns dropping another 50-piece on the Red Raiders, whose abysmal defense will be picked apart by Sam Ehlinger and Co. I’d consider betting Texas -17.5 here as well, but I think the over is a pretty secure shot.

Baylor (-18) vs. Kansas

Baylor has beaten Kansas ten straight times, and in nine of those ten games, they won by at least 19 points, including the past eight. Baylor has had several games postponed or cancelled and have been gearing up for gameday multiple times, so I don’t doubt that they’ll be ready to go out of the gate on Saturday. Meanwhile, Kanas lost to Coastal Carolina. By 15 points. At home. Roll Baylor here.

Kansas State (+28.0) @ Oklahoma, OVER 60.5

I’m hitting this game with the double bet. This seems like a pretty low over/under for two pretty solid Big 12 offenses. Kansas State put up 31 points in their first game, while the Sooners dropped 48. Meanwhile, Kansas State gave up 35 to Arkansas State, so I anticipate Spencer Rattler and the Oklahoma offense to easily eclipse 40+ points. If they hit 42, that leaves Kansas State needing just 19 to hit the over, bringing me to my second point.

This spread is just ridiculous to me. Over in the SEC, Georgia is a 28-point favorite against Arkansas, who hasn’t won a SEC game in two years. Kansas State went 8-5 last year…and they beat Oklahoma! How are they 28 point ‘dogs? Maybe I’m missing something drastic, but with Rattler making his first start against Power-5 competition, I just don’t see Oklahoma rolling over this 28 point spread.

Game Of The Week Preview: #23 Kentucky @ #8 Auburn

Although College Gameday may be headed to the FSU-Miami rivalry clash, the true game of the week lies a little northwest, at Jordan-Hare Stadium, where the #8 Auburn Tigers will play host to the #23 Kentucky Wildcats. This game is truly an intriguing battle, as both teams enter with a lot of unknowns. For Kentucky, they’ll be seeing the first of quarterback Terry Wilson since he suffered a season-ending injury in Kentucky’s second game last season. Will he spark a Kentucky offense that has been mediocre at best over much of the past decade? For Auburn, they lost stud defensive tackle Derrick Brown to the draft, but they return a lot of talent, and they’ll be anxious to see if Bo Nix’s promising true freshman campaign translates into a strong sophomore season.

History of the Matchup

Auburn has absolutely dominated this series, leading Kentucky 26-6 all-time, with a tie mixed in. The two teams haven’t played since 2015, when the Tigers took down Kentucky 30-27 in Lexington. Auburn has won 17 of the past 18 clashes with the Wildcats, going back to 1967. Traditionally, if Auburn gets any kind of offense, they have little issue with Kentucky – they are 21-0 all-time when they score more than 14 points against the Wildcats. As for Kentucky, they’ve only scored 20+ points seven times against Auburn, eclipsing the 30-point mark just once.

Auburn Offense vs. Kentucky Defense

As mentioned above, when Auburn finds a way to score points against Kentucky, they are traditionally very successful. They’ll be facing a difficult defense that finished 14th in the nation at 19.3 points allowed per game. Bo Nix is clearly the X-Factor here for Auburn, as his dual-threat abilities will be called upon to handle Kentucky’s elite pass defense. Auburn was 5-0 when Nix completed 65% of his passes, so efficiency will be the key against this stiff defense. If I’m Kentucky, my early focus is on stopping the Auburn ground game – forcing Nix to become one-dimensional will be key if Kentucky is to have a shot in this one. The Tigers have bruising freshman running back in Cartavious Bigsby, and if he can be effective running between the tackles, Nix can generate a passing attack off of play-action.

For Kentucky, they return seven of their top nine tacklers from 2019, a year in which they topped the SEC in passing defense. Their secondary core of Brandin Echols and Cedrick Dort, along with safety and leading tackler Yusef Corker, gives the safety position some star-level talent. The X-factor for Kentucky, as mentioned above, will be stopping the run. If they do that early, they’re daring Nix to beat them where they’re best, which is all you can ask for as a road underdog. The pass rush figures to be strong, but if Kentucky can get their big bruisers- 367-pound Quinton Bohanna being the anchor at nose tackle – into the backfield, then Auburn’s going to be facing an uphill battle to reach the end zone.

Kentucky Offense vs. Auburn Defense

This one may very well come down to Terry Wilson, who might have benefited the most from the delayed start to the season, as he was able to ramp himself up to full speed. If he comes back at 100%, he will give Kentucky a tough weapon on offense. However, the argument can be made that Wilson is far too inconsistent to be relied upon. In his full season as the starter in 2018, Wilson went through a five-game stretch where Kentucky couldn’t score more than 17 points, and overall, Wilson threw 11 touchdowns to 8 interceptions. Wilson not only needs to be back at 100%, he needs to play at prime Terry Wilson level from the get-go, without suffering from those bouts of inconsistency.

Beyond Wilson, Kentucky has a pretty solid ground game, led by Asmir Rose, who ran for 826 yards last season. Kavosiey Smoke and Christian Rodriguez will complement Rose after combining for 12 touchdowns last season, giving Kentucky a set of viable weapons in the running game. However, Kentucky is full of question marks in their receiving corps, where their top returning pass-catcher racked up just 233 yards last season. That, combined with Wilson’s shaky resume as a passer, does not offer a lot of hope for Kentucky’s air game. As a road underdog, the likelihood that Kentucky can win this with just their backfield is unlikely, so the Wildcats will need to find a way to get things going aerially.

Defensively for Auburn, they’ll lean on linebacker K.J. Britt to lead the charge against Kentucky. Britt forced two fumbles last year and recorded ten tackles for loss. He can be a quarterback spy of sorts for the Tigers, stopping any kind of short passing game or extended quarterback scrambles, if he plays effectively. Kentucky loves their smoke-and-mirror type of offense, and if Britt can be an intelligent leader for the Auburn defense, they’ll force Kentucky to get their passing game going, which is not Kentucky’s strength. In the secondary, Roger McCreary will be one of the major factors for Auburn, as he likely steps into a starting role after nine pass-breakups and an interception as a reserve last season.

Prediction

Auburn is 21-0 when scoring more than 14 points against Kentucky. That’s absolutely absurd to me, and I think it’s a mark that the Tigers exceed on Saturday. I’m not confident that this Kentucky offense is versatile enough to put up more than that against Auburn, even if their defense can limit Bo Nix and Co. Auburn has won three straight season openers, the last two against ranked opponents, and I’m putting my trust in the Tigers in what should be a defensive battle.

Auburn 24 Kentucky 13

Best ACC Bets – Week 3

The ACC is back in action this week, despite the postponement of Notre Dame and Wake Forest’s conference battle, and we are here to give you our top bets you can make for Saturday’s slate of games. All these bets – unless included in our parlay – have odds that are better than -200.

Louisville @ Pittsburgh, OVER 55.5

Louisville put up 34 points against a pretty decent Miami defense, and that was with three turnovers. If the Cardinals clean up the miscues, I anticipate them being able to put up another 30-35 points against Pitt. Meanwhile, Louisville’s defense looked absolutely abysmal, and Pitt QB Kenny Pickett has the talent to take advantage of the blown coverages that the Cardinals offered up at an alarming rate. I think Pitt races to keep pace with Louisville, trying to avoid a home loss, and this game ends up with both teams putting up 30+ points.

Syracuse @ Georgia Tech, UNDER 52.5

Talk about two abysmal offenses in this match-up. In four total games, these two teams have combined for 53 points. That’s horrendous. They should both be 0-2 had it not been for Florida State’s equally abysmal offense against Georgia Tech in the season opener. Syracuse has a pretty solid defense overall, keeping UNC in check for three quarters, and limiting Kenny Pickett and the Pitt Panthers to 21 points. I think this game is an ugly, defensive slog, where whichever team can break 20 points will claim victory. I can’t picture this game hitting the over.

NC State (+7.0) @ Virginia Tech

I flinched on this one. I liked Virginia Tech at first, but the Hokies really struggled at the start of last season, particularly in an embarassing loss to a BC team that lost by 24 to Kansas shortly after, and they’re playing a team that is already a week into their campaign. NC State boasted a new-look offense that was dynamic last week, plastering 45 points on Wake Forest. While Wake Forest isn’t as good as Virginia Tech, I wouldn’t bet on this Wolfpack offense losing by more than a touchdown right now. I’d be tempted to take the +210 moneyline here, but I’ll just give the spread as my go-to pick.

Miami (-11.5) vs. Florida State

This is probably the one I’m least confident out of the four, but I really am going to heap the embarrasment on the ‘Noles here. FSU lost by 17 at home to Miami last year, and the Hurricanes look a lot better this season. Meanwhile, the Seminoles were an absolute embarassment in their home opener, losing to an unimpressive Georgia Tech team in Week 1. Nothing gives me confidence that FSU keeps this one close on the road against their rivals, currently ranked 12th. I’m leaning Miami by two touchdowns in this one, covering the spread.