Louisville Cardinals (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. No. 6 Auburn Tigers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date/Time: Saturday September 5th, 3:30PM EST
Where: Georgia Dome Atlanta, G.A.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: LOU +10.5/AUB -10.5
Over/Under Total: 58.5
On Saturday the 6th ranked Auburn Tigers will start their 2015 season at the same venue where they hope to conclude their season inside the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Of course the Georgia Dome is the site of the SEC Championship which is always a hope of any of the SEC powerhouses especially for an Auburn team that has high expectations this season. On Saturday, we will get our first glimpse of one of the SEC heavyweights when they battle the Louisville Cardinals inside the Georgia Dome.
On paper it appears that Auburn should have some concerns entering 2015 rather than such high expectations worthy of a number 6 preseason ranking. The offenses returns just 4 starters and has to replace a ton of talent at the skill positions stemming from a 2014 team that just went 8-5. However the 2014 season was a rebuilding year following Auburns National Championship appearance to Florida State in Gus Malzahns first year. Despite replacing a ton of talent, the incoming players have a lot of experience and they are ready to hit the ground running.
Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson waited patiently the last two years behind former star standout Nick Marshall and is ready to step in to make an immediate impact. Johnson has shown flashes of greatness and will get his first full season to show exactly what he can do. The difference this year is that Johnson will provide more of a typical drop back style of passing opposed to Nick Marshall who relied on the zone-read attack that was fueled off his duel threat capabilities. While Marshall was always a homerun threat, Johnson will give the Auburn offense more consistency behind center as a true passer.
The question will be who is going to step up around Johnson to help lead the offense and help keep the Tigers as one of the most dangerous offenses in the country? A pair of talented running backs will enter the picture with sophomore Roc Thomas and the nations #1 JUCO transfer in Jovon Robinson. Not to mention, Dhaquille Williams should be a guy that could establish himself as a go to threat in the passing game. Therefore despite the returning starter concerns, Alabama has a ton of talent ready to step in and continue Auburns success especially on the offensive side of the football.
Auburns defense has been their Achilles Heel over the last few years but hopefully those recurring issues can be resolved by two words Will Muschamp. The former Florida head coach took will take over as the new defensive coordinator and Muschamp is largely regarded as one of the best defensive minds in college football. Therefore if the Tigers make the strides that some expect under Muschamp, they should be a force on both sides of the football.
While the expectations are high in Auburn, they could come crashing down to reality on Saturday against Bobby Petrinos Louisville Cardinals. Petrino led the Cardinals to a rather strong 9-4 season last year in his comeback tour to Louisville. However, Petrino inherited a veteran group of talent and now the real work will begin with just 9 returning starters. Fortunately, the talent on the defensive side of the ball is still strong even with some new faces on the field. Louisville ranked 6th in total defense in 2014 and while they could take a step back; they will still have a very solid group this year.
If Auburn sputters out of the gates with their rather new offense and lets this Cardinals group get some early confidence, this could turn into a real slugfest. The only question I have is can the Cardinals score enough points even if the defense plays well? The Cardinals offense is lacking playmakers not to mention the fact they return just 4 starters. Included in those returning 4 starters is quarterback Reggie Bonnafon who struggled mightily in 2014. Bannafon completed just 50.8% passing with just 5 touchdown passes. The offense will rely on running back Brandon Radcliff to move the chains but Radcliff is going to need some help if the Cardinals are going to knock off a quality team like Auburn. Who can pick up the slack on offense? Well, that remains to be seen.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Auburn -10.5
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