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2018 NCAA College Football: Auburn Tigers vs. Washington Huskies Pick & Prediction

If you're looking for a marquee matchup for Week 1 of the 2018 college football season, look no further than No. 6 Washington vs. No. 9 Auburn. The Tigers are the slight favorites at -2 at our online sportsbook, but the Huskies are primed to hit the ground running.

The reason why this game should be on your radar is that it has College Football Playoff consequences. Whichever team loses will essentially have a losing struggle to make it to the playoff as no team that has had two losses in a season has ever made it that far.

If Auburn loses, then their chances of making it go up in smoke with No. 18 Mississippi State, No. 3 Georgia, and No. 1 Alabama on their schedule (Yikes!).

Washington could make it if it loses based on the competition in the Pac-12, but Utah, Oregon, and Stanford could be complicated for them. Let's dive into the game specifics to see how it might play out.

NCAA Football: Washington vs. Auburn Week 1 Spread & Prediction

  • When: Saturday, 3:30 PM ET
  • Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta​
  • Opening NCAA Football Lines: Auburn – 2 (48.5)

Why Bet on Washington?

There are a few good reasons why you should look forward to banking on the Huskies. First, they have two Heisman candidates on the roster, QB Jake Browning, and RB Myles Gaskin, who could have turned pro after last season but stayed.

Browning wasn't spectacular last season, but he did start every game and broke some records at UW. He also finished with 19 touchdown passes and a 152.1 QB rating which is solid. Even while these stats aren't as good as those in his junior season (43 touchdown passes and a QB rating of 167.5), they're still pretty decent.

Meanwhile, Gaskin is only the third Husky to rush for 1,000 yards in three seasons running and was named second-team All-Pac 12 last season. He's also broken a few records at UW, including rushing touchdowns (41) along with owning the title of the only player in UW history to score four or more Tds in two different games.

There are also good reasons on the defensive side of things that make Washington a good bet. Statistically, the Huskies are the best in the Pac-12 and have risen in the ranking each year to finish at No. 8 nationally last season. They also lead the Pac-12 in scoring defense for the past three years.

How has Washington fared throughout the years in season-openers? The Huskies are 87-35-6 all-time and have posted a 17-11 record since 1989. Last year and the year before, they beat Rutgers in their first game but fell to Boise State in 2015.

Why Bet on Auburn?

As the defending SEC West champions, the Tigers are a solid bet. But, the fact they missed their shot at the playoff by losing the SEC title game to Georgia is a dark spot on their record.

The Tigers also have a Heisman candidate of their own in QB Jarrett Stidham. Last year, Stidham transferred from Baylor and was named SEC newcomer of the year, second team all-SEC and a finalist for the Manning Award and Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award. Those are quite the accolades that can't be overlooked. His stats are also solid: he led the SEC and ranked ninth nationally in completion percentage (66.5, 246-370). He was fourth in the in SEC, 19th nationally in passing efficiency (151.0). Stidham ranked second in passing yardage (3,158), first in completions (246) and sixth in touchdown passes (18) among Auburn single-season all-time leaders.

Stidham isn't the only Tiger to have earned his keep; nine Auburn players were named on the preseason coaches All-SEC first, second and third team. And, even though none of them made the first team, five of them were named to the second team by the league's coaches. The rest were named to the third team.

Offensively, wide receiver Ryan Davis set the Auburn single-season record for receptions with 84 for 815 yards and 5 TDs.

Defensively, Auburn brought back nine of 10 players on their defensive line, including starting tackles Brown and Russell. And, though they've not settled on a starter at the pass rusher position, they have their secondary in place already after three upperclassmen and All-American cornerback Carlton Davis departed.

Game Prediction: Given Auburn's stature on the national scene, it's understandable they're the favorites to win. The only way for Washington to earn their respect is with a win. But, the Tigers really have too much of a good defense to get to Browning and stop Gaskin.

Pick: Auburn Tigers  

 
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