Point spread: Auburn -23
The Utah State Aggies, out of the Western Athletic Conference travel east this Saturday to open their 2011 season against the defending national champion Auburn Tigers from the SEC at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Kick-off is set for 12 p.m. (ET) and the game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2.
Utah State started the 2010 season with a tough 31-24 loss to Oklahoma as a 34-point road underdog and went on to finish 4-8 overall and 2-2 straight-up in non-conference play. The Aggies come into this season with low expectations as a 20/1 longshot to win the water-downed WAC, but do not be surprised if they play the Tigers just as tough as they did the Sooners in last season’s opener.
The big question in this game will be Utah State’s ability to stop Auburn from running the ball up and down the field. This has been the weakest area of this defense in the past, but the addition of both depth and size to the front seven should result in a better performance this year.
The reining champs run to the BCS title has been well documented but so has the mass exodus of talent from that team including the main architect of the run, quarterback Cam Newton. In his place, Auburn will go with junior Barrett Trotter, who completed a total of six passes for 64 yards last season so experience will be an issue. The Tigers will also need a few backs to step up in the running game, as there is a major lack of experience in this area as well.
Auburn’s defense will also feature a number of new faces with just a handful of starters back from last year. The only area with some solid experience is the secondary with both T’Sharvan and Neiko Thorpe still in place.
Utah State went 5-7 against the spread last season and the total stayed ‘under’ in seven of its 12 games. Auburn was undefeated straight-up, but went 10-4 ATS. The total went ‘over’ in eight of its 14 games.
The Tigers will be looking to prove that they are still a force in the SEC, but this youthful squad will have some growing pains as all the new faces in the lineup will need a couple of weeks to fully gel. Auburn wins this game with relative ease, but fail to cover the 23-point spread.
The Pick: Auburn 33 Utah State 20
DJ is a freelance writer that concentrates on his true passion in life; the world of sports. He produces a number of articles each week for BangTheBook.com as well as a select group of other websites that specialize in providing the most up-to-date information for the sports gaming industry. His goal is to write insightful articles on a wide variety of sporting topics that can provide an edge to today's sophisticated online player.