Oregon vs Auburn The answer will depend on whether you’re asking people in orange and blue or those in the brightest greens and yellows you’ve ever seen on Saturday night. That’s because No. 11 Oregon and No. 16 Auburn will kick off the 2019 season in the home of the Dallas Cowboys, AT&T Stadium. It’s the first meeting between these programs since the 2011 BCS Championship Game when Auburn beat Oregon 22-19 behind Cam Newton and Michael Dyer’s ability to defy physics to win a national title.
So while that was the only time these two schools have ever met on the football field, there’s plenty of history already in this showdown, and Oregon would love to get some revenge while maybe changing the way the rest of the country views the Pac-12. As for Auburn, the Tigers might be ranked No. 16, but they’re the lowest of the six SEC teams in the AP Top 25. A win over Oregon could be a sign the Tigers are prepared for a lot more than also-ran status in the SEC this season. With Gus Malzahn feeling the heat for Auburn and an interesting quarterback battle in this game, there’s plenty of reasons to watch on Saturday night.
The highest-profile matchup of Week 1 is officially upon us. Let’s take a look. And don’t forget to subscribe to our Cover 3 college football podcast. Listen below for locks for the top games in Week 1.
Auburn: The Tigers are coming off an 8-5 season, and there have been too many of those on The Plains for a lot of Auburn fans. In fact, since winning that national title against Oregon, Auburn has played for another national title, but it lost to Florida State in 2013. In the seven seasons other than those title runs, Auburn has gone 52-40. That’s good enough for some programs, but not a team that wants to win national titles like the Tigers do.
This season, Auburn will be trying to do it with a new quarterback as freshman Bo Nix was named as the team’s starter. Nix is the first true freshman to start the season at QB for Auburn in the modern era, and he’s the son of former Auburn QB Patrick Nix (1992-95). Nix was Alabama’s Mr. Football winner last season at Pinson Valley where he played for his father and won consecutive state titles. Now he hopes to bring that kind of success back to Auburn.
Oregon: The Ducks are in a similar situation as Auburn but with a different perspective. They went 48-7 in the four seasons following that loss to Auburn, and lost a title game to Ohio State in the very first College Football Playoff National Championship. The four seasons since have seen the Ducks go 29-22, but they improved to 9-4 last season and are feeling optimistic heading into 2019.
A big reason for that is Justin Herbert, who many believed would leave school for the NFL last season but instead came back for his senior season. Herbert enters the season as a Heisman Trophy candidate. The Ducks also have a freshman defensive end in Kayvon Thibodeaux, who headlines a strong recruiting class for Mario Cristobal and the Ducks. The No. 2 prospect in the 2019 recruiting class, many believe Thibodeaux will have a significant impact from the start.
The clash of Oregon’s offensive line and Auburn’s defensive line is going to be one of the best battles in the trenches in all of college football this season. Penei Sewell, Shane Lemieux, Jake Hanson, Calvin Throckmorton and either Dallas Warmack or Brady Aiello taking on Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson and Nick Coe is appointment television.
If the Ducks can protect Justin Herbert from the Tigers front four, he’ll be aiming for new go-to receiver Juwan Johnson, Jaylon Redd, Johnny Johnson III and Josh Delgado against an Auburn secondary that returns four starters, including two speed demon outside corners.
Oregon has to open holes for CJ Verdell and Travis Dye and find more success on the ground than it did against Michigan State. Auburn’s linebacker corps is all new starters and is the one area of uncertainty to potentially exploit.
The chess match between Oregon offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo, who was criticized fairly and unfairly last season, and Auburn defensive mastermind Kevin Steele will be particularly compelling.