College Football Game of the Week: No. 11 Oregon vs. No. 16 Auburn
Last Saturday night kicked off a fall season chock-full of college football primetime matchups with No. 8 Florida edging out Miami 24-20, and this weekend features a full slate of college games. Our game of the week is the No. 11 Oregon Ducks taking on the No. 16 Auburn Tigers at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas, giving us one of the best interconference battles of this early portion of the season.
After putting the NFL on hold for another year to grow his college résumé with the Ducks, quarterback Justin Herbert is looking to make a statement early this season against Auburn, and after adding the transfer of Juwan Johnson from Penn State, the Oregon offense is primed to look like it so often has in the past: potent and able to get down the field in a hurry. If Auburn wants to come up with the perfect counter to the Oregon attack, it’s going to have to run the ball consistently and sustain lengthy possessions in order to keep the ball out of Herbert’s hands as much as possible. In the SEC, punishing your opponent with a physical ground game is the way of the world, and the Tigers didn’t do it all that well last season, failing to get a single player to 1,000 rushing yards for the season. True freshman QB Bo Nix, named the starter of the season opener for Auburn, will be an important part of the ground game. His speed can be used on designed runs and when the pocket breaks down, but either way, his athleticism will need to be accounted for by the Ducks, or they’ll get hurt for being overly aggressive with their rush.
Also working to the Tigers’ advantage is their defense, which has the ability to impose its will on opposing offensive lines and clog up the trenches, which would make things difficult for Herbert under center. On the other hand, this is exactly the position matchup football aficionados dream of, featuring the starters on the Oregon offensive line, combining for 153 career starts. Penei Sewell, Shane Lemieux, Jake Hanson and Calvin Throckmorton are included in this group, in addition to another player who might even serve as a reserve because the position is so deep. Auburn is almost as deep at the position, with Prince Tega Wanogho, Marquel Harrell, Kaleb Kim, Mike Horton, Jack Driscoll and backup Nick Brahms combing for 104 career starts. That experience makes for a great duel between the two teams up front and could decide the game.
Considering that three of Herbert’s top targets are sidelined (Brenden Schooler, Mycah Pittman, and JR Waters are all likely to sit out Saturday's clash), the QB might be playing with an incomplete set of weapons and therefore could be forced to sit in the pocket for longer, giving the Auburn defensive line chances to wreak chaos. The result of this game depends on if Nix can have a strong start to his college career and keep pace with Herbert, because, if not, Oregon may be able to tire out Auburn with its pace.
Prediction: Oregon 28, Auburn 17
Jeremy Ganes is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in entrepreneurship and innovation. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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