The Louisville Cardinals are coached by Bobby Petrino, who has a lot of familiarity with the SEC dating back to his tenure as the head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks. Petrino used to have to beat Auburn regularly in order to have a successful season.
Now he coaches against Auburn in a non-conference game in Atlanta, a neutral site, but one which should mostly have Auburn fans. We’ll see if the ACC’s newest program can stay with one of the favorites to win the SEC title and make the College Football Playoff.
The Cardinals were dogged by injuries last year, especially at the quarterback spot. They couldn’t really sustain good offensive production, and they were not in good shape for the Belk Bowl, which they lost to Georgia. Louisville did not have a complete team for much of the season – it lacked the personnel Petrino wanted to have on board for his offense. The good news is that Louisville’s various quarterbacks in the fold gained some experience due to the injuries suffered by the man (or men) in front of them in 2014. As a result of accumulated reps and experience, Louisville and Petrino can say that Will Gardner, Reggie Bonnafon, Kyle Bolin and Lamar Jackson are vying for the starting job and can all contribute in this season. How will this quarterback derby pan out? Petrino has been very secretive about how he’ll use these players, so while the outlook might seem muddled, it could give Louisville a way to constantly keep opposing teams and defensive coordinators guessing.
For Auburn, the 2014 season was highly unlikely to match the 2013 season in which almost everything went right, and the Tigers came within one drive of winning the national championship – they gave up a winning march to Florida State in the 2014 BCS National Championship Game. Auburn’s 2014 season was marked by sloppy play on offense and an inability to run the ball nearly as successfully as it had in the previous season. The Tigers, though, think that with new quarterback Jeremy Johnson, who is viewed as a very talented player, they can recapture on offense what they lost last season. If Johnson works out, the team should be better. The other big hope is that new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp can make the team’s defense good enough to win the SEC.
This line is at -11 for Auburn in some places, but it is mostly 10.5 if you look across the college football odds board and survey many of the main betting providers. People aren’t sold on Auburn, and they also know that Petrino is a wily coach who can make life difficult for Auburn’s defense, which might grow and improve, but isn’t probably ready to be at its best.
Louisville does not have any injuries listed right now. The Cardinals are in excellent shape on that front heading into this game.
Auburn wide receiver Myron Burton left the team in the offseason. Duke Williams is now probable for the game, which gives the Tigers a huge boost. Williams is the team’s best receiver and needs to be able to function well in order for the Tigers to soar.
Handicapping The Game
The uncertainty at the Louisville quarterback position points to a lack of confidence by Petrino in one guy. Don’t positively spin the Louisville situation, so therefore, you should pick Auburn to cover with your college football picks.
College Football Pick: Auburn -10.5 at bet365