Auburn Tigers vs. West Virginia Mountaineers Preview and Pick – Thursday Night Football Picks

Auburn Tigers (4-3), +3, 38 O/U vs. West Virginia Mountaineers (4-2), -3, 38 O/U
Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, W.V., 7:45PM Eastern, Thursday

By Jay Horne of

The Auburn Tigers head up to Morgantown to take on the West Virginia Mountaineers primetime Thursday night. This contest will showcase two teams possibly trying to salvage their seasons as both have had disappointing starts. Auburn will bring the speed and power of a SEC defense to do battle with high power spread offense from the Big East in an out of conference showdown.

West Virginia comes into the contest after winning three straight and knocking off Syracuse 17-6 in their last game. The Mountaineers were upset early in the year at East Carolina and then were defeated again a week later at Colorado. However, the Mountaineers have won every game this season at home and look to do the same Thursday night. West Virginia will go against a very strong defense led by Auburn, but perhaps the Mountaineers spread offense could be the answer to foiling the Tigers defense. The Mountaineers have had the last week off and hope to get yet another win at home.

Auburn has had a tough time in recent weeks dropping their last two ball games. The Tigers were beat by Vanderbilt by one point 14-13 and then were at the hands of an upset the following week falling 25-22 to Arkansas. Times have been tough for the Tigers who were anticipating a much better season. Before their last game with Arkansas, offensive coordinator Tony Franklin was fired from the team after some poor offensive performances this season. Auburn has adopted a version of the spread offense and has struggled to perfect it. Perhaps the off week leading up to this game has given the offense much needed time to straighten their problems out. Auburns defense has played very well this season and they will need it to continue. The defense will have a great battle when they line up with West Virginias dangerous offense, and the Tigers defense will be the key to their success.

Vegas has opened the game favoring West Virginia by 3.5 points over the visiting Tigers. The over/under total for the game has opened at a mark of 38. Early betting action is favoring Auburn with nearly 70% of the public siding with the Tigers ATS. Moneyline numbers have West Virginia favored at -160 and Auburn listed at +140.

West Virginia is led by All-American Pat White who is a duel threat quarterback that likes to run first and then throw the ball down field when defenses become vulnerable. White had a great season last year and was a front runner for the Heisman. White has not had the senior season many may have anticipate but has still accumulated over a 1,000 all-purpose yards in his first 6 games with 580 yards passing and 428 yards rushing. A break out star emerging at West Virginia is sophomore running back Noel Devine. Devine is averaging 6.6 yards a carry and has rushed for 642 yards so far this season. Devine and White gives defenses nightmares posing as a dual threat in the backfield. West Virginia is ranked #4 in all of college football in rushing offense.

On the other side of the ball, there may not many to realize that West Virginia has established a good defense. West Virginia is viewed by most the nation as an offensive team, but the Mountaineer defense has put up solid numbers all season. West Virginia is ranked #15 in the nation in scoring defense only allowing 14.7 points per game. Also, their total yards defense and rushing defense is both ranked in the top 40 teams in college football. In West Virginias last three games, they have held teams to an average of 8.6 points per game. This could be a big factor when they take on a struggling Auburn offense.

The Tigers as previously mentioned have struggled this year on offense. However, their defense has play strong all year long. The defense has in fact play so strong that they have had a good chance at winning every game this season. In the Tigers 3 defeats, the most they have lost by is a mere 5 points. The Tigers defense ranks #9 nationally in total point scored at 9.0 points per contest. They are also ranked #14 in the nation in total yards holding teams to 272 yards per game. The defense is fast and powerful and has dominated at times this year. Earlier in the year, Auburn scored 3 points against Mississippi State in the entire game and that was enough for the Tigers as they did not give up any points on defense. Auburn won the game 3-2 due to an offensive safety. Defensively they are as strong as a team can get. The dilemma will be if the offense came overcome some early season problems and put points on the board.

The Tigers offense is led by junior tailback Ben Tate. Tate has racked up 533 yards this season averaging 4.4 yards a carry with 2 touchdowns. QB Chris Todd has struggled at times completing 55% of his pass attempts with 903 yards averaging 129 yards per game. Todds biggest problem is turnovers; he has thrown 6 interceptions this season. Auburns inability to pass the ball has the ranked as one of the worse teams in the nation in passing. The Tigers have averaged 19 points per game and at times it has been enough for their defense to overcome, but they would certainly like to put up some bigger totals on the scoreboard.

Betting Trends- Amazingly Auburn is 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games with the total going on the under in 7 of their last 9 games. West Virginia has not exactly been a money maker either; the Mountaineers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games. The total has went on the under in 5 of their last 5 games. However, West Virginia has played stellar at home going 11-1 SU in their last 12 games at Mountaineer Field.

Jay’s Pick: Defense, defense and more defense. Take the UNDER 38.