Akron vs. Auburn Odds, Pick, Prediction: Zips Have Value as Heavy Road Underdog (Sept. 4)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
- Auburn starts the Bryan Harsin era today by welcoming Akron to Jordan-Hare.
- The Tigers will hope QB Bo Nix makes significant improvements in his third year as the starter.
- Check out Alex Kolodziej's full betting guide with odds, picks and predictions for the game.
Akron vs. Auburn Odds
Auburn kicked off the 2019 season with a neutral-site contest against Oregon, in a game which many at the time believed held significant CFP title implications.
Two years later, the program’s just trying to stay afloat.
War Eagle won that aforementioned season-opener, yet dropped four of their last eight. Fresh off an underwhelming 6-5 record and gearing up for a new coaching regime, Auburn’s one of the most interesting Power Five teams in the country.
However, Week 1 is essentially a moot point against a MAC bottom-feeder. Auburn’s going to win; all we care about is by how many.
Famed actor Adam Sandler’s got a handful of legendary one-liners. One of my favorite stems from The Longest Yard, when his character, quarterback Paul Crewe, notes his team needs a confidence boost prior to playing its big game.
“In college, we’d start every season against Appalachian State or some slack Division II team. Kick the living sh– out of them. Get their confidence up.”
I firmly believe if the directors rolled out a 2021 version of the movie, they’d use Akron in App State’s spot. The Zips are just too easy a target.
The program’s been plastered on a milk carton the last two years, stringing together a 1-17 clip; the lone win came against Bowling Green, which shouldn’t even count.
A college football rule of thumb, especially for bottom-dwellers like Akron, is if you aren’t good, at least put up some points. The Zips can’t even accomplish that.
Since 2019, a sample of 18 games, the offense has averaged just north of 4.0 yards per play and has been held to 17 points or fewer a whopping 13 times.
Akron’s in decent shape in TARP ratings, which factor in transfer assets and returning production. The program brings back north of 80% of last year’s output, but will it matter? The Zips are 105th or worse nationally in both rush and pass success rate and must hold up against an SEC-caliber defense.
Akron’s defense has served as a revolving door for its opponents lately.
The Zips were dead-last last year in yards per play allowed (7.4) and coughed up 56 points or more in half their contests.
There’s some experience leftover from last year’s club — linebacker Bubba Arslanian led the nation in solo tackles (7.8 per game) — but if the unit surrenders close to 250 rushing yards per game like it did a season ago, it’s irrelevant.
Former Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin steps in for Gus Malzahn, who’s at UCF. Harsin filled the trophy shelf in the Mountain West but fell below the profit line, going 45-42-1 against the spread (51.7%).
Auburn outscored its opponents by 10.5 points per game in its 9-4 campaign two seasons ago. However, the Tigers were much less effective a season ago, registering a +0.4 mark.
Where the Tigers go in 2021 depends solely on quarterback Bo Nix.
The highly-touted dual threat failed to take a step forward in his sophomore season, posting just 12 touchdowns and seven picks in 2020 after logging 16 and six the year prior.
Nix had a sneaky-good receiving corps last year, but struggled to utilize it. Now, his top-three receiving options are gone, leaving a bulk of the work for star tailback, Tank Bigsby.
Auburn employs a top-25 rushing success rate, which bodes well in a matchup they’re favored to win by close to 40.
Auburn’s been synonymous with stout defenses, but the unit was far from dominant a year ago.
After finishing No. 23 in the country in yards per play allowed in 2019, the Tigers fell back to 61st, surrendering 5.4 per. War Eagle’s plus-plus in both offensive and defense TARP, but the latter gets a big boost with 83% of the unit back.
Akron vs. Auburn Matchup Analysis
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Akron Offense vs. Auburn Defense
Auburn Offense vs. Akron Defense
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Akron vs. Auburn Betting Pick
This is a one-sided matchup, but I can’t imagine taking Auburn at this price when I could have had -35 or better. The number’s gone, and frankly, there needs to be a cut-off point, despite this having the makings of a shellacking.
We can spin the narrative that Auburn “needs” a big win out the gates to compensate for last year’s stinker, but if only it were that simple.
Bigsby and Nix should get a heavy dose on the ground in what should strictly be a business trip for Auburn. This is as big of a get in, get out type of game on the docket, and I question if this game means more to the favorite than it does the ‘dog.
I’m not comfortable taking the chalk after -33 was available. Hold your nose and bet the dog, or pass altogether.
Pick: Akron +37.5.