Kentucky at Auburn Betting Odds & Pick: Bo Nix Season in Full Effect? (Saturday, Sept. 26)
Michael Chang/Getty Images. Pictured from left, Eli Stove (12) and Bo Nix (10).
- No. 8 Auburn and No. 23 Kentucky will face off in one of Saturday's few matchups between top-25 teams.
- Auburn appears poised to take the next step in the SEC conference pecking order, while Kentucky is still looking for answers in its secondary.
- Stuckey previews the matchup in his betting guide below, including odds and his pick for today's noon SEC showdown.
Kentucky at Auburn Odds
|Kentucky Odds||+7.5 [BET NOW]|
|Auburn Odds||-7.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+245/-320 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||49.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET|
The SEC has finally arrived. In a week full of conference games with large spreads and unbalanced matchups, this battle between two ranked teams has plenty of intrigue. Let’s dig in.
Auburn Tigers Preview
Auburn does return starting quarterback Bo Nix, who I expect to make a significant jump in efficiency during his sophomore season. He’ll also benefit from getting all three of his top receivers back. I think Auburn will find success against what I believe is an overvalued Kentucky secondary.
That said, Auburn isn’t without questions on the roster, especially in the trenches. The Tigers have to replace four offensive linemen as well as three defensive linemen now on NFL rosters. The defensive line still has returning experience with Big Kat Bryant and Tyrone Truesdell, plus some talented newcomers that excellent defensive line coach Rodney Garner should get up to speed quickly. Still, this will be a big test at the point of attack against one of the best offensive lines in the country.
Auburn’s linebacker group is very solid, but the secondary lost four of five starters from the 4-2-5 base, with only nickelback Christian Tutt coming back. We will see if Terry Wilson can take advantage with a group of unproven wide receivers.
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Kentucky Wildcats Preview
The Wildcats are a program on the rise in the SEC. After six straight losing seasons between 2010-15, Kentucky has posted four straight winning seasons with an average of eight wins over that span.
The biggest question mark coming into this season is how will they replace the production of do-everything quarterback Lynn Bowden, who now sits on the Miami Dolphins roster.
Quarterback Terry Wilson
The Cats can at least lean on an experienced quarterback in Terry Wilson, who has gone 12-3 in 15 career starts in Lexington. He suffered a knee injury in Week 2 last year that cost him his season, so all eyes will be on how well he’s recovered — both mentally and physically.
The good news for Wilson is that he will drop back behind one of the best offensive lines in the entire nation. That front, led by star center Drake Jackson and two other potential All-SEC players, will pave the way for a heavy ground-and-pound attack that returns all three top running backs from a season ago.
Wilson’s Supporting Cast
Wilson obviously doesn’t have the same running ability as Bowden, so Kentucky will need to throw the ball more. The problem is we don’t know much about the Kentucky receiving corps due to the lack of passing in 2019.
Believe it or not, Lynn Bowden actually finished as the team’s leading receiver in a year when Kentucky finished in the bottom-five nationally in passing yards per game. Josh Ali is the team’s leading receiver with 233 receiving yards last season. We aren’t really sure what we”ll get from Kentucky through the air against an Auburn secondary that must replace three starters.
In addition to Bowden, the defense was the star of the show for UK last year. The Wildcats defense finished in the top 20 in scoring and No. 2 against the pass. On paper, this unit could get even stronger with seven of the top nine tacklers returning. The secondary remains intact and Quinton Bohanna is a star on the interior. There are some holes to fill at linebacker in Kentucky’s 3-3-5 scheme, but this is an extremely experienced group.
However, I think this defense may be a bit overrated. Last season, they benefited from a schedule full of super passing offenses and favorable weather conditions. UK played in a handful of games in monsoon-like rain and winds. And with Kentucky’s heavy run-based attack, that really had no effect on its offense. Nonetheless, the weather still benefited UK by foiling opposing offenses’ plans and at least partially neutralizing the athletic playing field.
As I previously mentioned, Kentucky finished second nationally in passing yards allowed per game at only 167.8. That’s a bit of a fraudulent ranking. Just take a look at UK’s 2019 opponents and their respective pass yardage rankings.
- Toledo (85th)
- Eastern Michigan (28th)
- Florida (16th)
- Mississippi State (109th)
- South Carolina (74th)
- Arkansas (103rd)
- Georgia (72nd)
- Missouri (73rd)
- Tennessee (75th)
- Vanderbilt (115th)
- UT Martin (N/A)
- Louisville (65th)
- Virginia Tech (86th)
In the first game of the season, Toledo’s starting quarterback got hurt. Then, over the next two weeks, the Wildcats faced the only top-70 passing offenses they saw all year. They allowed over 300 yards passing in both of those games.
After those three games, nobody was talking about Kentucky as an elite pass defense. From that point on, the Wildcats defense faced nine straight FBS teams ranked outside of the top 70 in passing yards, in addition to an FCS team. And interestingly enough, they played three of those games (Georgia, Missouri, Louisville) in horrendous weather conditions.
This pass defense is severely overrated in my opinion.
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In a year where continuity seems to matter much more early in the season, Kentucky has the edge there. The Wildcats bring back seven starters on offense and eight on defense, while the Tigers only return seven starters in total.
I do think Kentucky’s defense is getting too much love for last year’s bevy of fluky results, but the advantage in the trenches could be significant.
I make this line just under 10, so I would certainly take Auburn at -6.5 — but not over 7 where it currently sits. This is a game where we’ll learn a lot about both teams, so I may just sit back and enjoy while looking for a live opportunity.
The Pick: Auburn -6.5 if you can find it; otherwise, live-bet the game.