Kentucky Wildcats (2-3, 2-3 ATS) at Auburn Tigers (5-1, 4-2 ATS)
Jordan-Hare Stadium Auburn, A.L. Saturday October 17th, 7:30PM Eastern
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Kentucky +13.5/Auburn -13.5
The SEC host a late night battle Saturday night from two teams who are both coming off disappointing losses last week. Auburn had reached the number 17 ranking before getting crushed last week by the Arkansas Razorbacks 44-23. The Tigers setback on the season may not be too disappointing considering their 5-1 start was a bit of a surprise. The Tigers offense has really developed into a big threat and they are not done making noise in the SEC this season.
On the other side of the field, the Kentucky Wildcats are also coming off a heartbreaking loss 28-26 from South Carolina. The Wildcats heartbreak may be because they felt it was a game that could have been won. QB Mike Hartline led the Wildcats offense down the field against the talented South Carolina defense, but was knocked out of the game with a knee injury and the Wildcats offense was not as effective throughout the rest of the game. However, the Wildcats are facing a lot of pressure as they have still yet to score a win in the conference. The efforts are getting better, but will this be the week they score the victory?
The Tigers present a balanced offense that can beat defenses numerous ways. Running back Ben Tate leads the SEC by a pretty wide margin with 724 yards through 6 games this season. Tate has been sensational averaging 6.1 yards per carry on 119 attempts with 4 scores on the season. In the Tigers’ 3 SEC matches this season, Tate has averaged a ridiculous 156 yards per game against some solid defenses.
Of course when Tate does not run the ball, defenses still have plenty of reason to worry. QB Chris Todd ranks 2nd in the conference with 227 yards per game and 12 touchdowns. Perhaps even more impressive is that Todd has just 1 interception on the year tied with Greg McElroy of Alabama for the least amount of picks thrown by starting quarterbacks. The Tigers had the number 1 offense before last week’s battle with Arkansas and they look for these talented players to put them back on top this weekend when they take on the Wildcats.
Unfortunately, QB Mike Hartline’s injury will not be a quick fix. Hartline tore a MCL in his knee and is done for the season. Stepping in will be quarterback Will Fidler. The junior threw 5 of 13 for just 45 yards in last week’s battle against South Carolina after stepping in for the injured Hartline. Fidler did not look very impressive against a South Carolina secondary that was missing some key players. Fidler made some bad looking passes and must come out sharp against the Tigers.
WR Randall Cobb will attempt to help the inexperienced quarterback get the ball down the field. Cobb is an all-purpose threat that can do it all. Cobb has 310 receiving yards on the season with an additional 130 rushing yards. Cobb will line up in many different positions and must be guarded well or he can make defenses pay. Another big help for the offense will be running back Derrick Locke. Locke has shown signs of brilliance and also signs of struggle this season. Locke had some big plays last week and has 333 yards on the season. With Hartline out of the picture, Locke will likely get an increase in carries this week and a chance to make more plays.
Kentucky is just 4-9 ATS in their last 13 games and just 8-17 SU in their last 25 games on the road. The Wildcats have reached the over in 4 of the last 6 games, and Auburn has reached the over in 5 of their last 6 games. The Tigers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games and also own a 4-1 ATS mark in their last 5 games at home.
Jay’s Pick - Fidler will not be able to match the scoring tenacity of the Tigers here. Take Auburn -13.5