With the start of the 2016 NCAA collegiate gridiron season nearing, it’s time for some college football predictions! Let’s take a look at the Week 11 matchup between SEC title hopefuls Auburn at Georgia.
Auburn Tigers at Georgia Bulldogs 2016 College Football Free Picks
When: Saturday, November 21, 2006
Where: Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA
NCAAF Odds: Georgia -6.5
Bet The Auburn Tigers Because…
The Tigers are looking for revenge against an opponent that, on paper, isn’t much better than they are. Auburn Tigers (7-6 SU, 3-9-1 ATS) underachieved in 2015 despite having nearly as much talent as any team in the country. The Tigers return six starters on both sides of the ball, but need improved play at several positions, starting at quarterback, where head Coach Gus Malzahn has yet to choose a starter out of a trio of candidates including John Franklin III, Jeremy Johnson and Sean White.
At running back, 2015 second-stringer Jovon Robinson is set to replace former starter Peyton Barber but the wide receiver position looks like it could be problematic because of a lack of experience. Not only that, but Malzahn must also find a pair f suitable replacements for starting tackles Shon Coleman and Avery Young and that could be easier said than done, although the Tigers do have an All-SEC performer in guard Braden Smith.
The good news is that the Tigers look like they’ll be solid at the very least on defense in 2016 under new coordinator Kevin Steele, who comes on board after one year at LSU. The Tigers have a pair of potential next level defensive linemen in Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams and a group of young recruits that could all make an immediate impact.
The linebacker unit is an area of concern after losing three starters and their 601 career tackles. In the secondary, Malzahn needs to find a new starter for departed senior Blake Countess, but the Tigers do have an All-SEC performer in sophomore Carlton Davis.
Bet The Georgia Bulldogs Because…
They’re playing at home against a comparable opponent they match up well against. The Georgia Bulldogs (10-3 SU, 6-7 ATS) are heading in a new direction in 2016 under the stewardship of former Alabama assistant Kirby Smart after longtime head coach Mark Richt bolted to return to alma mater Miami.
On offense, Smart has eight returning starters from last season’s squad, including quarterback in Greyson Lambert. However, after the Bulldogs finished 104th in passing by averaging a modest 185.0 yards per contest through the air, Lambert is apparently in a fight to retain his spot against true freshman Jacob Eason. The Dogs have a competent group of receivers led by Terry Godwin and Isaiah McKenzie and have a bunch of talent at the tight end position.
Whoever starts under center will find life a lot easier if gifted running back Nick Chubb returns to form after recovering from a serious knee injury he suffered against Tennessee early last season. Chubb rushed for over 1,800 yards as a freshman two years ago and his return to health could make the Dogs a dangerous bunch on offense.
Georgia lost both starting tackles on the offensive line and starting wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, so Smart and new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, clearly have some questions to answer on offense. Georgia ranked a stupendous seventh in total defense a year ago and led the nation in pass defense by limiting the opposition to just 156.4 passing yards per contest. The Dogs will be excellent again in the defensive backfield in 2016, but they have an inexperienced front seven that will need to grow up in a hurry.
The good news is that there’s plenty of talent, starting with defensive tackle Trent Thompson, a player that many considered the nation’s best overall recruit last year.
Expert Pick & Final Score Prediction
While I like the Georgia Bulldogs to get the win at home in this Week 11 matchup, I just don’t see the Bulldogs beating the Tigers by a touchdown, making Auburn the pick to cover the spread for me.
I know Georgia has won two straight and four of the last five meetings over Auburn while covering the spread in each SU victory, but I’m thinking these two teams are a lot more evenly matched than they’ve been in recent years, not to mention the fact that Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn is likely entering a make or break season as far as keeping his job is concerned.
Georgia went 3-4 ATS at home in 20015 while Auburn went 3-2 ATS on the road. My college football predictions pick says the Tigers cover by pushing the Dogs for the outright win.