Auburn Tigers Odds to win the College Football National Championship with Expert Betting Predictions
Last year was a crazy ride for these Tigers. By Week 7 they had lost twice, and the calls for the head of Gus Malzahn were less than subtle. It seemed like he was completely doomed. But then he ran the table the rest of the regular season, upset both Georgia and Alabama - the two eventual national finalists - and made the SEC Championship Game. They lost that game to Georgia, but faith had been restored. Arkansas tried to get Malzahn to move to his home state, Auburn kept him with a massive seven-year extension, and the path to the future was set. But was it the right move? And can Auburn come even closer to the playoff than they did last year when they were just one win away?
2017 in a Nutshell
Losing to Clemson last year was pretty acceptable, and Auburn wasn't blown out. But losing at LSU wasn't great, because that just wasn't a very good team, and a team like Auburn thought they were should have been winning games like that. Their best win in that seven-game stretch was Mississippi State, and that wasn't good enough. And on homecoming weekend they beat Mercer by only two touchdowns when everyone was looking for blood. It's not a wonder Malzahn's seat was hot. But then something changed. They crushed Arkansas and Texas A&M on the road. They shocked No. 2 Georgia by 23 at home, and then two weeks later beat Alabama by 12 in the Iron Bowl. Winning the Iron Bowl makes a whole lot of things alright for this program. They weren't much of a match against Georgia in the rematch in the conference title game, and they didn't seem particularly engaged in the Peach Bowl against UCF. So, in the end they were just 10-4, but obviously it was enough to make the administration commit to spending $49 million more on a coach.
Key Additions and Departures
Quarterback stability is a luxury, and Auburn has it - Jarrett Stidham is a legitimate Heisman contender. But after a few years of excellence at running back, there is real change and uncertainty there. Star back Kerryon Johnson declared early for the draft and went in the second round. Kamryn Pettway, the top rusher in the SEC in 2016 before injuries cost him last season, also declared early, but he went undrafted. Now guys like junior Kam Martin or new recruit Asa Martin - no relation - need to step up and claim the job. They have big shoes to fill. The receiver group took a big hit when the guys who were expected to be the second- and third-best players this year both tore ACLs in spring practice. They will need freshmen to step up and shine. Three positions are likely locked up by experienced players on the line. UMass grad transfer Jack Driscoll is making a play for one of the open spots.
Jeff Holland led the team in sacks on the defensive line, but he's gone. They return three other starters, though, and they have tremendous depth behind them. This should be a strength of the team. They have three senior linebackers and strong depth behind them, and they often play only two at a time, so they are in very good shape. The corners are stable. Both starting safeties are gone, but they have options - including a few new recruits - so they should be fine.
The only coach Malzahn lost this year was offensive line coach Herb Hand, who was poached by Texas. Malzahn didn't miss a beat, though, bringing back J.B. Grimes, who has had good success with Malzahn in the role before.
Biggest Area of Concern
It has to be at running back. They have gotten used to having stars, and they might have one emerge this year, but it is no certainty that that will happen. It's a big part of this offense, and with injuries at receiver they need that running game to be effective.
Auburn Tigers Schedule Analysis
It starts rough. It ends rough. And the rest is okay. They open against a Washington team that should be very good in Atlanta. A team that has lost their opener has never made the playoff, so this is a huge game. And at the end they visit Georgia and then two weeks later visit Alabama. Georgia should be quite good, and Alabama is poised to defend their title, so that's rough. Beyond that, though, things are manageable. Their other three nonconference games are jokes. They play at Mississippi State but host LSU - and can beat both teams. Arkansas, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Texas A&M are all going through transitions. The path to double-digit wins is going to be very tough, but a respectable enough total can happen.
2018-19 Auburn Tigers Betting Odds and Trends
At +3000 to win the national title at Bovada , Auburn rounds out the Top 10 of national contenders. They are the second choice to win the SEC West at +500, though they fall well behind heavily-favored Alabama. They are the third choice to win the SEC at +850, but again they fall well behind Alabama and Georgia. Jarrett Stidham ranks as a second-tier Heisman contender at +2500. The season win total sits at 9, with the "over" solidly favored.
2018-19 Auburn Tigers Predictions and College Football Picks
I don't love this team this year. They are losing those three tough games in my eyes. And another one along the way as well. There are too many things that are questionable to make me think they can match the year they had last year. They'll be more like first half of 2017 Auburn as opposed to second half of 2017.
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