Auburn vs. Washington fearless prediction and game preview.
Date: Saturday, September 1
Game Time: 3:30 pm ET
Venue: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
Auburn (0-0) vs. Washington (0-0) Game Preview
It’s about redemption.
Washington got to the College Football Playoff two years ago, only to get its clock cleaned in Atlanta by Alabama in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
This year’s team has the experience and the talent to make it two trips to the CFP in three seasons, and no matter how this plays out, it’ll be the lead dog in the pack to take the Pac-12 North as well as the whole conference.
It’s also redemption time for the Pac-12.
Coming off a miserable bowl season and currently battling with the Big 12 for the tag of being the fifth-best of the Power Five conferences this season, the league needs a win.
A big, flashy, national win that shows that this is a league worth paying attention to. It has to come up with something that shows that the Pac-12 After Dark stuff doesn’t have to appeal just to the cultish of college football fans. It has to do something to be relevant to all of the time zones.
It has to prove that its best team can hang with one that’s probably the third-best in the SEC.
Auburn has to redeem itself, too, with the last trip to Atlanta an embarrassing loss to a feisty UCF squad in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, and with that coming off the SEC Championship blasting in the ATL to Georgia.
Win, and it’ll be a national announcement that the Tigers are going to be right back in the SEC title hunt again, and that they’re going to be a factor in the national title chase.
The College Football Playoff starts now. The winner is still alive, and the loser – for all intents and purposes – will all but certainly be out.
Unless the loser can redeem itself by cranking out 12 straight wins.
One Reason Why Auburn Will Win
The Huskies aren’t going to be able to power their way over the Auburn defensive front.
There might be several massive losses on the Tiger D, but the tackle combination of Derrick Brown and Dontavius Russell is a strong as any in college football. Despite the losses on the outside, the ends are fast, and the linebackers are about to showcase what they can do on a national scale against the UW ground attack.
If Washington wants to win this, it’ll have to do it through the air.
QB Jake Browning is good enough to do his part, but are the receivers ready for primetime?
The Husky receiving corps is dangerous, but there’s no John Ross or Dante Pettis that Auburn can’t handle – at least not yet. There will be plenty of throws to the tight ends to keep things moving, and that’s where the Tiger speed will kick in.
One Reason Why Washington Will Win
It’s not like the Washington offensive line won’t give it a try for the ground game.
Myles Gaskin is back after running for 1,380 yards and 21 touchdowns last year, and he’s just a part of a loaded backfield with more than enough options to work into a rotation. It’ll all happen behind the Pac-12’s best line, even with future first-round offensive tackle Trey Adams still iffy coming off a torn ACL. The offense can work around tackle Kaleb McGary and guard Nick Harris.
And then there’s the other side of the ball.
Auburn might have an NFL quarterback in Jarrett Stidham, and the ground game under Gus Malzahn will be terrific, but good luck doing much consistently well against this D.
Nine starters and almost all of the top tacklers are back from the nation’s eighth-best defense, but the real strength of the team might be in the secondary. It’s not going overboard in any way to suggest that this might be the best group of defensive backs Stidham will face all year – and Auburn has to face Georgia and Alabama.
What’s Going To Happen
This is going to be more of a defensive slugfest than it might seem, and Washington has the stronger parts across the board.
Auburn is terrific, with everything in place to pull off another rabbit out of the hat and get to the SEC Championship again. But in the opener, the experience of the Huskies will matter.
There’s just no weakness.
The Washington receiving corps will be fine, and the kicking game is more than good enough. Everything else – from Browning, to the linebackers, to the offensive backfield, to the secondary, to the coaching – is on par with the best in college football.
The Huskies will go into SEC country and the Pac-12 will come out with the win it has to have.
Fearless Prediction & Line
Washington 26, Auburn 24
Line: Auburn -3, o/u: 51
ATS Confidence out of 5: 1.5
Must See Rating: 5
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