This time of year, many Power-5 FBS programs can be found playing “thrash for cash” games, taking on FCS or lower-conference teams in what amount to predetermined wins.
But the Auburn Tigers, always unconventional, selected a tough Sun Belt unit in Georgia Southern for their season-opening home game.
GaSo has scared several big-name schools in the past few years with a devilish triple-option offense, adapted from the old-fashioned under-center style to a multiple shotgun-set version after Todd Monken left for West Point.
But this season, the progression of the Eagles may be put on hold while the squad rebounds from losing a starting QB, an NFL running back, and 3 of its top 4 receivers.
Who: Georgia Southern Eagles at Auburn Tigers
When: Saturday, September 2nd, 7:30 PM EST
Where: Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, Alabama
Lines: Georgia Southern (+34.5) at Auburn (-34.5) / O/U Total: (54)
The ATS lines opened at (36) and has shrunk to less than 5 touchdowns, as bettors jump at the opportunity to pick a strong Group-of-5 program plus so many points. But an objective analysis of where the Tigers are reveals that this is not a Sun Belt team against an ordinary SEC school. We could be watching the 2017-18 national champions make their debut at Jordan-Hare this weekend.
Gus Malzahn has recruited a terrific transfer QB, Jarrett Stidham formerly of Baylor University. Stidham should be able to step right in and give the Tigers one of the biggest QB upgrades in the FBS, considering Auburn has struggled with poor QB play for much of Malzahn’s tenure.
There is nothing wrong with Auburn’s deadly Wing-T running game, nor its defense. Only the QB position has been lacking. That should be a thing of the past now.
Considering that the Eagles have lost so much on offense, picking the Tigers vs a shrunken ATS line is tempting. Georgia Southern is 1-5 ATS in 6 recent road games.
But a better value pick is the over. Remember, the total points scored in a Power-5 vs minor-conference beat-down is usually related to how much the underdog is able to score early. Sophomore Eagle QB Seth Shuman does not have the maturity or the stamina to pilot the triple-option for 4 quarters against an SEC school and come out on top. However, he’s new, and the Tigers’ lack of familiarity with how the Eagles intend to use Shuman in their complex scheme should be enough for GaSo to get on the board early.
That means Auburn will leave its 1st-string offense on the field longer in the 2nd half. Which means that the 54-point O/U line is likely toast.
We predict a 51-17 final score and a clear winning bet on the over.