Oregon Ducks vs. Auburn Tigers Expert Picks with Odds and Betting Predictions
Oregon Ducks vs. Auburn Ducks, Saturday August 31, 7:30 p.m. ET
The only game of the opening weekend that features two ranked teams takes place in Jerry Jones' temple of football in Dallas. Oregon is a team that has struggled the last few years but is trying hard to return to relevance. Auburn won a national title in 2010 and played for another three years later, but they have won more than eight games only once in the years since. So, both of these teams could really use a statement win to start the season. And both of them are capable of winning - but they both have big questions that they will have to answer to get that win.
Oregon vs. Auburn Betting Storylines
It's a tale of two quarterbacks in this game. Senior Justin Herbert is back for another year, surprising many by opting out of the draft even though he was very likely to go high in the first round last year. He's a prototypical NFL quarterback. And though he needs to improve significantly on his 59.4 percent completion percentage last year, his 29 touchdowns against eight interceptions was the real deal. Expectations are perhaps slightly higher than they should be heading into this year, but he is still an accomplished and dangerous starter. On the other sideline is Bo Nix. The true freshman was the top-rated dual-threat QB in the country this year and second quarterback overall behind Oklahoma's Spencer Rattler. He's obviously talented, but he's also obviously very raw, and making your first start against a higher ranked team in a stadium that fits more than 80,000 people isn't exactly easing into things. Oregon has a pretty clear edge under center.
There is a qualifier that needs to be made when it comes to the QB discussion, though. If Herbert has a flaw, it's that he doesn't handle pressure very well. And Auburn has a defensive front that is one of the better ones out there. Oregon's offensive line is experienced, and they will have to be on top of their game here. This could be a defining matchup, and it certainly has the ability to level the QB playing field a little.
But Auburn needs to take care of business better than they did last year to take pressure off of their young quarterback and give him a chance. Auburn's running game is typically sound, but it struggled last year. Oregon's defensive front was solid last year, and they have a new defensive coordinator who will be looking to make an early statement. Oregon knows that the Auburn running game is vulnerable, and they will be looking to make things difficult. Auburn needs to have a good answer for that.
The coaching matchup is an interesting one. Mario Cristobal is in his second year at Oregon and seems to be fitting nicely in the role of savior after a rough stretch of coaching for the program. He has an infectious charm, and it is clearly working for this team. Gus Malzahn, meanwhile, is in an uncomfortable spot. He got a ridiculous seven-year, $49 million extension after the 2017 season, but last year's underwhelming season caused a lot of remorse among the fans of the team. He was portrayed as a genius before his time at Auburn, but genius has been intermittent at best of late. The pressure here is much more firmly on the shoulders of Malzahn - and Cristobal is the better coach.
Oregon vs. Auburn Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Auburn favored by 2.5 points. A small minority of bets overall have been on the Tigers, yet the line has moved through the key number of three to 3.5. That suggests that sharp money is tilted towards the Tigers. The total is set at 56, with the "over" slightly favored.
The Ducks are 4-1 ATS in their last five games in August, so they get out of the gate well. They are, however, just 1-4 ATS in their last five nonconference games. They aren't alone in the struggles outside of their own conference, though - Auburn is 3-7-1 ATS in their last 11 nonconference games. The over has gone 4-1-1 in Oregon's last six games against SEC teams. The "under," though, is 4-1 in Auburn's last five against the Pac-12 and is 6-1-2 in their last nine neutral-site games.
Oregon vs. Auburn Predictions and Picks
I'm concerned about Oregon's ability to protect their quarterback, but even at well less than full steam Herbert gives his team an edge against Nix. And the coaching matchup feels like a mismatch as well. Oregon has to travel further, but it's not like Auburn gets to play in their backyard. I would be into Oregon if they were giving up a field goal, so I'm quite happy to be on them here. Oregon is the enthusiastic play to get this season started.
Doc's Sports is offering a great deal for new clients - you can get $60 worth of free college football picks with no obligation. No credit card is needed, and you will never have to deal with a salesman. Get $60 worth of premium members' picks free . Also, get three handicappers for the price of one when you sign up for a full-season football package! Click Here for details . Get free weekly free college football picks at Doc's Sports free football picks page.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
Get all of this Weeks College Football Picks
Get all of this Weeks guaranteed Expert College Football Picks