Auburn Tigers (3-2 SU, 0-5 ATS) vs. Kentucky Wildcats (4-1 SU, 2-3 ATS)
College Football Week 7
Date/Time: Thursday October 15th, 7:00PM EST
Where: Commonwealth Stadium Lexington, K.Y.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: AUB -1.5/UK +1.5
Over/Under Total: 52
An interesting battle will take place this Thursday night when the Auburn Tigers travel into Lexington for a meeting with the Kentucky Wildcats inside Commonwealth Stadium. The Tigers were expected to be much better this season but early losses to LSU and Mississippi State in their first two SEC contests simmered those expectations. However, the Wildcats have exceeded expectations and currently standalone as the 2nd best team in the SEC East behind Florida. The Wildcats will seek an unexpected 5-1 start when they host Auburn this Thursday night.
Last year the Wildcats got off to a fast 5-1 SU start before losing their final 6 games of the season. Judging by the way this team had to rally from 14 points down in the 4th quarter to beat Eastern Kentucky two weeks ago, it will be interesting to see if their 4-1 record is truly an indicator of their progress or their early soft schedule. The good news for the Wildcats hopefuls is that this team has some weapons on offense and they will get to use those weapons against an awful Auburn defense. Despite the addition of defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, the Tigers defense has not improved. Defensively Auburn has relinquished 412 yards per game (86th in FBS) and they have been one of the worse teams in the country against the run giving up 209 yards per game (106th in FBS).
Luckily for Auburn, Kentuckys offense has not moved the football well on the ground. In fact, the Wildcats rank 104th in the FBS gaining just 135 yards per game as a team. Instead the Wildcats offense has leaned on the arm of quarterback Patrick Towles. The junior quarterback tossed 3 touchdowns and threw for 3 touchdowns in the comeback win against Eastern Kentucky two weeks ago. Towles has had a few issues with turnovers this year but he is still a very solid quarterback. If tailbacks Stanley Williams and JoJo Kemp are unable to get things going on the ground, it will be interesting to see if Towles can get the job done with his arm.
For Auburn, we know they have defensive concerns but they have not exactly been up to par on offense this year either. Of course the standard bar for Auburns offenses are a bit better than what most other offenses around the country expect out of their teams. Still, Auburn has struggled especially in their two prior conference matchups this season where they scored just 30 points combined. Quarterback Jeremy Johnson has not lived up to the expectations behind center completing just 59% passing with 6 picks and 5 touchdowns. In fact, the entire Auburn passing offense has been dreadful. The only real bright spot on offense has been running back Peyton Barber who has become the workhorse. Barber has had a minimum of 23 carries per game in 4 of his 5 starts this season. Outside of the tough matchup with LSU, Barber has carried the weight averaging over 5 yards per carry.
I know it seems like Auburns struggles on both sides of the ball outweigh what Kentucky has done on paper thus far this season. However, Auburn still has a clear advantage in terms of talent despite their setbacks this season. Therefore, Auburn will have every opportunity to win this football game this Thursday night but in order to do so they will have to keep the football moving on the ground. Jeremy Johnson is not going to win the game for the Tigers but he can be effective once things get going. If that happens, look for Auburn to open things up as the game goes along.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Surprisingly Auburn has not won a game ATS this season going 0-5 ATS to start the year. However, Kentucky has not exactly been the greatest team for bettors either going 3-6 ATS in their last 9 games. Despite Auburns struggles, I think the Tigers find a way to pull this one out and get the win on the road. Take Auburn -1.5
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