Auburn Tigers at Kentucky Wildcats
Commonwealth Stadium – Lexington, Kentucky
Thursday, October 15, 2015, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Auburn -2
Current Line: Auburn -2
Opening Total: 51
Current Total: 51 1/2
Opening Money Line: Auburn -125 / Kentucky +105
Current Money Line: Auburn -130 / Kentucky +110
At the beginning of the season, Auburn was a top ten team and even predicted to win the SEC title. A playoff berth was even mentioned. Those dreams are long gone as Auburn is 3-2 overall and still looking for their first SEC win at 0-2. Only South Carolina and Vanderbilt are also winless in the SEC. Auburn is in last place in the rugged SEC West division
Auburn travels to the 4-1 Kentucky Wildcats Thursday night. The Wildcats are 2-1 this season in SEC play. Kentucky is in second place in the SEC East behind 4-0 Florida. The Wildcats are looking for their first bowl appearance since the 2010 season. The Wildcats also started off the season 4-1 last year but would only win one more game for the rest of the year and barely missed out on a bowl. This game is considered a benchmark for the Wildcats to see if they are truly a contender or pretender in the SEC.
Auburn leads the series 25-6-1 against Kentucky including 12-4 in Lexington. Dating back to 1966, Auburn has won 17 of the last 19 against Kentucky, including 37-34 in Lexington in 2010 in the last meeting. This is the first Thursday night home game for Kentucky since 1934, also the first year these two teams played each other.
Auburn is coached by Gus Malzahn. The Tigers have a win over Louisville 31-24 in Atlanta, along with home wins over Jacksonville State 27-20 in overtime and two weeks ago against San Jose State 35-21. Auburn has a road loss at LSU 45-21 and at home against Mississippi State 17-9. The Tigers were off last week. Auburn was a 21.5 point favorite against San Jose State and the total was 56.5. Despite forcing 4 Spartan turnovers, Auburn struggled against San Jose State. The Tigers took a 21-7 lead into halftime. SJSU pulled to within 7 points twice in the second half but could never tie it up. The Tigers held on for the 14 point win to snap a two game losing streak. Auburn is 0-5 ATS and the total is 1-3-1 this season.
Kentucky is coached by Mark Stoops. The only loss came at home to Florida 14-9. Kentucky has home wins over UL-Lafayette 40-33, Missouri 21-13 and two weeks ago over Eastern Kentucky 34-27 in overtime, along with a road win at South Carolina 26-22. The Wildcats were 27.5 point favorites against Eastern Kentucky and the total was 54.5. The Colonels were actually up 27-13 with around five minutes to go before Kentucky forced overtime with two touchdowns in the last five minutes. Kentucky survived the upset bid despite 3 turnovers. The Wildcats are 2-3 ATS and the total is 2-3 as well.
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Auburn is being outscored 25.4-24.6 this season. Auburn is #95 in scoring nationally. The Tigers average 344 yards per game including 154 passing and 190 rushing yards. Auburn is #48 in rushing but #105 in total offense and #114 in passing out of 128 teams. On defense, Auburn is allowing 412 total yards per game including 202 passing and 210 rushing yards. The Tigers are #108 in rush defense nationally. Auburn has forced eight turnovers but has nine giveaways this season. The Tigers average 40 penalty yards per game and opponents average 32 per game. Auburn is 26/59 on third and fourth down conversions, and opponents are 37/77. The Tigers have forced seven sacks and have allowed 9 this season. Auburn is 13/17 scoring in the red zone with 10 touchdowns, and opponents are 16/20 with 13 touchdowns. Auburn has a defensive touchdown this year.
Quarterback Jeremy Johnson has struggled this season. He has completed 59.7% of his passes for 473 yards with 6 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, along with 21 carries for 59 yards and 2 rushing touchdowns. Freshman Sean White has played in the last two games. He has thrown for 296 yards with an interception, and also has 47 rushing yards on 15 carries. Malzahn has yet to name his starter against Kentucky, and both could see action. Another back-up QB Tyler Queen is out for the season with an elbow injury.
Running back Peyton Barber has 109 carries for 558 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with 4 catches for 43 yards. Roc Thomas has 29 carries for 143 yards, and 8 catches for 163 yards and a touchdown. Kerryon Johnson will also get some carries and catches. Little used running back Jovon Robinson is questionable with an ankle injury.
Receiver Ricardo Louis has 19 catches for 193 yards and a touchdown, along with 11 carries for 47 yards and a rushing touchdown. D’haquille Williams has 12 catches for 147 yards and a touchdown. Melvin Ray has 9 catches for 84 yards and 2 touchdowns. Seven defensive players are listed on the injury report.
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Kentucky is outscoring teams 26-22 this season. The Wildcats average 366 total yards per game on offense, including 231 passing and 135 rushing yards. Kentucky is #93 in total offense and #105 in rushing nationally. On defense, the Wildcats are allowing 368 yards per game including 198 passing and 171 rushing yards per game. Kentucky has forced six turnovers and has seven of their own. The Wildcats average 60 penalty yards per game and opponents average 58. Kentucky is 38/84 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 32/82. The Wildcats have forced 10 sacks and allowed 16 this season. Kentucky is 15/15 scoring in the red zone with 11 touchdowns, and opponents are 14/19 with 9 touchdowns.
Quarterback Patrick Towles has completed 61.5% of his passes for 1,153 yards with 8 touchdowns and 6 interceptions and three rushing touchdowns. Running back Stanley Williams has 47 carries for 343 yards and a touchdown, along with 8 catches. He is questionable for personal reasons. Jojo Kemp has 51 carries for 246 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 4 catches. Mikel Horton has 32 carries for 92 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 6 catches for 69 yards.
Receiver Garrett Johnson has 19 catches for 278 yards and a touchdown. Dorian Baker has 24 catches for 276 yards and 3 touchdowns. Jeff Badet has 11 catches for 210 yards and 2 touchdowns. Blake Bone has 13 catches for 134 yards and a touchdown. Kicker Austin MacGinnis is questionable with a groin injury. Miles Butler will handle the kicking duties if MacGinnis can’t go. Five defensive players including four linebackers are listed as questionable or out.
Auburn is 1-4 ATS in Thursday games, and after passing for less than 170 yards, 1-5 against teams with winning home records, 2-14 overall, 1-10 against teams with winning records, 0-8 after an ATS loss, 0-5 in SEC games, 0-4 after a straight up win, after rushing for 200 yards or more, and in road games, and 0-11 on grass.
Kentucky is 4-1 ATS against teams with winning road records, 5-2 after an ATS loss, and after rushing for less than 100 yards, 8-19 in SEC games, 2-5 on grass, 1-4 at home and 1-8 after passing for 280 yards or more.
Both of these teams struggle on offense, so this should be a low scoring game. Each of Kentucky’s five games have been decided by a single possession, and this game should be no exception. Kentucky’s first goal is to get to six wins and bowl eligibility. However, this starts a very difficult four game stretch that includes road games at Mississippi State and Georgia and a home game against Tennessee. Auburn is desperate for their first SEC win and this is one of the only seemingly winnable games on their remaining schedule. I like the Tigers to claw out a close win on the road.