Utah State Aggies at No. 23 Auburn Tigers
Saturday, 9/3/11, 12:00 PM EST, TV: ESPN2
Opening Point Spread: Auburn -21.5
Current Betting Line: Auburn -20.5
Opening Total: 53
Current Total: 57
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker
Utah State kicks off the 2011 season on the road for the fourth-straight season and will be facing a ranked opponent for the third consecutive time. The Aggies will be facing the Tigers for the first time in school history. Many around the program don’t expect the team to be overwhelmed by playing inside Jordan-Hare Stadium, as they are quick to remind people of a seven-point loss it suffered at Oklahoma a year ago. A battle has ensued at the quarterback position, which is the major question mark surrounding the squad in such an environment. Either Adam Kennedy or Chuckie Keeton will be making his first collegiate start. Utah State is 3-0 ATS as a road underdog of 17.5 to 21 points.
The Aggies welcome back seven players to the playing field who missed all or part of the 2010 season, including star running back Robert Turbin. The junior needs just 22 rushing yards to reach the top 10 list for career yards in school history. Virtually all questions during the offseason outside of the replacement of star quarterback Diondre Borel have been focused on the defense’s change from a 4-3 alignment to a 3-4 scheme. Head coach Gary Anderson will actually be handling the defensive coordinator duties due to changes on this year’s staff.
Auburn comes in off a national title campaign and the remaining players feel that the school is being given little chance to repeat. “Everybody’s dogging us,” commented defensive end Corey Lemonier. “Everybody’s putting us down.” The Tigers will have to deal with life without Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Cam Newton, who jumped from the collegiate ranks and landed with the Carolina Panthers as the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. The program does own the distinction of coming in with the nation’s longest win streak, which stands at 15 games. Auburn is 16-10 ATS over the last two years.
The Tigers will focus on gaining yards on the ground early this year, as they are one of two teams nationally that return a pair of running backs who ran for at least 800 yards last season. Michael Dyer set a school record as a freshman with 1,093 yards, while Onterio McCalebb pitched in with 810. Much of the disrespect the school has been given solely rests on the inexperience up and down the roster, as just 11 seniors with playing experience are back. That number pales in comparison to the 24-member class that graduated with a BCS Championship.
Bettors will likely back the Aggies due to their 9-4 ATS mark in road games, while the Tigers are 24-33 ATS in non-conference action.
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