Auburn has a history of avoiding tune-up games in Week 1. You can catch a full breakdown of Auburn season openers over the last ten years. Admittedly, last year’s 41-7 routing of Georgia Southern was a tune-up game. But to keep the strength of schedule tip-top, the schedule-making geniuses have the Tigers hosting the Huskies in Jordan-Hare Stadium. No. It won’t be UConn; we are challenging ourselves to the No. 6 Washington Huskies.
This game is sure to be an epic defensive battle, but we have the advantage of playing nearby in Atlanta. Huskies fans will have to hoof it all the way across the country so, this is more or less a home game for the Tigers and even Las Vegas recognizes that fact. The top books have Auburn as 2.5 to 3-point favorites on the college football odds boards.
This is undoubtedly college football’s most important game in Week 1. If all goes well, both the Washington Huskies and Auburn are going to be chasing a playoff berth and a loss in Week 1 could be the determining factor at the end of the regular season.
A Defensive Challenge
Washington comes into the 2018 season with the 4th best rushing defense in the FBS and the 8th best defense overall. The passing game is where the Auburn Tigers are going to have to play fundamental ball if they want to beat the Huskies. Washington ranked 32nd in passing D last season but have since added some depth and talent to their secondary, plus all key members from last year are back and healthy. So it’s now considered by some to be the deepest in the nation. Auburn has been known to rely a little bit too much on the passing game lately, but to keep this elite UW secondary off-balance, the Tigers are going to have to set it up from the run, instead of the other way around.
Washington’s road defense only allows 18 points per game. The War Eagle attack needs to be balanced enough to set up for some big downfield plays, but Jarrett Stidham will have to look out for Byron Murphy, and his top receivers will have to make sure to create some distance from the defensive ball-hawk.
Tigers Are Tougher
The Huskies are still the Huskies, and their recruiting isn’t nearly as good as Auburn’s. Those fantastic stats come against coming against mostly Pac-12 opponents that are not nearly as big up front and in the trenches on either side of the ball. This will be a key factor for the Tigers. The Huskies defensive line won’t be able to control the line of scrimmage against Auburn like it can against say the Ducks, Cougars, or the Beavers. It isn’t even comparable. We saw a bite-sized sample of this when the Huskies played Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl.
On the other side of things, Trey Adams is back for the Huskies, and they will be starting the season with one of the best offensive lines in the country. This should be more of a concern for the boys of Auburn than the highly-touted UW defense. Myles Gaskin has gone for over 1,300 years for three consecutive years … and with the O-line healthy once more, he should start the season strong, and UW will likely try to pound away at the Tiger’s defensive front.
But running the ball might actually be where we have an advantage. Vita Vea is no longer present on the UW defensive line and ILB, Keishawn Bierria are gone; off to the NFL. These two players were intrinsic in the Huskies’ ability to shut down the run last year. UW’s ability to stop the run in 2018 should be tested frequently throughout the game as elite rushing teams did well against the Huskies last season and now they might be a little softer against the run.
Huskies vs. Tigers Prediction: It’s going to be a close game, but Auburn will overpower the Huskies up front and get the win.