Expert College Football Picks: Washington vs. Auburn Odds and Predictions
Washington Huskies vs. Auburn Tigers, Saturday Sept. 1, 1:30 p.m. ET
Perhaps the most interesting thing leading up to this, the biggest game of the opening weekend of college football action, is the fact that neither program seems thrilled about playing it. The stakes are incredibly high - no team has made the College Football Playoff after an opening-week loss. And Washington is one team that has shown you can overcome weak nonconference games and still make the playoff. Washington has to play the toughest game they will play all season in their first game, and they have to travel all the way across the country to do it. Auburn gets to stay close to home, but their dreams of beating Alabama this year and taking the SEC could take a significant blow out of the gate. Scheduling tough early is a risk that some teams seem to be moving away from, and it's a good bet that one of these teams will wish they had done so as well. But for us it means a great and intriguing game.
Washington vs. Auburn Betting Storylines
Jake Browning is back for what feels like his ninth season as Washington's starting QB. His production took a big hit last year, but injuries were a big factor, and now he has lost his top receiver for the second straight year. But he has serious game, there are some young pieces to work with, he'll be well protected, and Myles Gaskin - another college football lifer who has amassed more than 4,000 career rushing yards already - is back for more. The offense should be fine - not nearly as good as the playoff squad of two years ago, perhaps, but solidly better than last year. And, like last year, they will be helped by a potent defense. The Huskies were a Top-5 squad nationally on that side of the ball last season, and they return nine of 11 starters. They won a lot of coin flips on turnovers, and that might not be sustainable, but this is still going to be a good team defensively.
Auburn needs to move past how their season ended. The regular season went almost perfectly - they were 7-1 in the SEC, beat Alabama, won their division, and were a win in the SEC title game away from the playoff. But then the wheels fell off. They were smoked by Georgia and then gave a limp effort in their bowl loss to UCF. It wasn't a good look, and it won't be close to good enough here. Jarrett Stidham is back at QB, and he is as accurate as they get in the game right now. Like Browning, he is dealing with a depleted receiving corps. He also has a defense behind him that is tougher to trust than Washington's as they weren't as opportunistic as the Huskies were last year, and they have endured more losses.
We need to talk about the setting for this game. Atlanta is a heck of a lot closer to Auburn. Washington has to travel a long way - and cross three time zones. That makes this an early start for the Huskies, and they are not a team that chooses to travel very far, so they aren't going to be used to it. And while the Huskies have excellent fans, they aren't going to travel in near the numbers that Auburn's will. This is one of those neutral-site games that can safely be considered a home game for one of the teams, and that team sure isn't Washington.
Washington vs. Auburn Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Auburn opened by a field goal, but it quickly fell off that key number, and has fallen to 1.5 points, with two available in some spots . Action is basically split between the teams. Bettors are, not surprisingly, struggling to take a strong stance. The total sits at 48.
Neither of these teams is in a position of real recent strength. Washington is just 1-5 ATS in their last six nonconference games - and those have come against much weaker competition than this. Auburn is an even worse 0-5-1 ATS in their last six out of conference and just 1-5 ATS in their last six on a neutral field. There are trends pointing towards the under for both teams as well - Washington has gone under in five of their last seven neutral-site games, while the under has gone 5-0-2 for Auburn in that same stretch.
Washington vs. Auburn Predictions and Picks
This is a tight game, and the location makes me uneasy. In the end, though, it comes down to two things. Washington's defense is better positioned to face a top veteran QB than Auburn's is at this moment, and I give Washington a significant edge in coaching. That's not much of an edge, but when the number is this small it doesn't need to be. Washington will give the SEC a body blow out of the gate and come out on top.
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