The Auburn Tigers host the Oregon Ducks in what should be one of the premiere match-ups of the first full weekend of college football action. Kickoff is set for 7:30 PM EST on Saturday, August 31st at Jordan-Hare Stadium and the game will be televised nationally on ABC.
Taking a look at the Week 1 college football odds, Oregon opened as a 6.5-point road underdog earlier this week. That line has come down quite a bit after early betting, as the Ducks are currently listed at +3. The total for the game is sitting at 57.5 points.
Vegas Betting Preview & Game Odds: Auburn vs Oregon
Oregon had and up and down season in 2018, as their disappointing 5-4 record in PAC-12 action left them well back in the North division. However, they managed to end their year on a high note after beating Michigan State in the Redbox Bowl to finish a respectable 9-4 overall. Head Coach Mario Cristobal certainly has a lot of positives to build on heading into his second full year on the sidelines. There is no doubt that the Ducks will want to get off to a quick start to try and send a message to the rest of the Pac-12, which looks like it will be highly competitive again in 2019. QB Justin Hebert could be the edge that Oregon needs to get past the Tigers on the road in Week 1, as Hebert passed for over 3,000 yards and found the end zone 29 times last season. There is a very good chance that he will land somewhere in the Top 5 during next years NFL draft, especially if he finds fast chemistry with recent Penn State transfer Juwan Johnson and puts on a clinic for scouts yet again.
While the defense didn’t play quite as well as the offense did last year, the Ducks still were fairly solid against the rush as they kept opponents to under 145 yards per game on the ground (43rd overall) . Oregon also gave up a very respectable average of 25.4 points per game, which was 48th overall. However, they will need to improve their play in the secondary if they hope to reach the PAC-12 Championship in 2019 after allowing over 240 yards per game through the air last season (82nd overall).
Auburn needs to have a much better year in 2019 if head coach Gus Malzahn hopes to keep his job for the foreseeable future. Not only did the Tigers finish a disappointing 8-5 overall, they also went just 3-5 in SEC play and didn’t find a way to win a single rivalry game all season long. Malzahn looks to have his work cut out for him, as former starting quarterback Jarrett Stidham has moved on leaving true freshman Bo Nixon to start against Oregon. Nixon has been thrust into the spotlight after backup Malik Willis transferred to Liberty, and he may face some severe growing pains early on. Not only will he have to face a tough Oregon team right off the bat, he also won’t have the services of Auburn’s top two receivers from 2018 as both Darius Slayton and Ryan Davis are gone. However, standout freshman Seth Williams should be able to build on his fantastic first season after hauling in 26 receptions for 534 yards and five touchdowns. Williams also averaged 20.54 yards per catch, the highest in the entire SEC.
The Tigers were fantastic on the defensive side of the ball in 2018, as they held opponents to just 19.2 points per game (14th overall). Auburn was especially formidable against the run, giving up less than 150 yards per game on the ground.
NCAA Football Betting Predictions & Free Pick: Oregon +3
There is a ton of hype surrounding this game heading into the first full weekend of college football action, and for good reason. Both of these teams will want to make a statement early on against a tough opponent and generate some much needed momentum in their respective conferences as soon as possible. While I would have been all over the Ducks when they opened at +6.5, I still think they offer decent value at +3 as there is a good chance they could even win this game outright. Hebert may be the top pick in the draft this year while Bo Nixon has yet to play a game as a starter at this level. Auburn’s defense should keep them in the game, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Oregon found a way to pull of the upset on the road.
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Oregon really has a balanced offense attack, as Hebert can burn teams through the air while CJ Verdell rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2018. Even if the Tigers find a way to shut down the running game, Hebert has enough play-making ability to put points on the board for the Ducks despite facing a tough opponent in a hostile environment. I simply don’t have enough faith in a freshman starter making his first appearance in a nationally televised game against a capable defense. Sure, Oregon may not be a defensive juggernaut, but I feel much more comfortable backing a known quantity than an Auburn team that looks to be heading the wrong direction. I’ll take a wait and see approach until Nixon can prove that he is the real deal – give me the Ducks!