Kentucky-Auburn may not be getting the primetime slot on ESPN or the SEC on CBS treatment, but all of the college football world is focused on what will happen when the ball is kicked off at Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday at noon on the SEC Network.
Before submitting their picks, CBS’s top college football minds butted heads on the Cover 3 Podcast. Tom Fornelli is all in on Auburn, mostly because he trusts Bo Nix more than Terry Wilson, while Barton Simmons is fighting on Kentucky’s behalf.
“I think Kentucky matches up pretty nicely here. If Kentucky is looking for a showcase win, beat a big name early in the season, pick the team you want, I think Auburn’s the right pick because Auburn’s front seven, the defense has typically been their strength. But they reload, they lost a lot of those guys. Kentucky’s offensive line is one of the best in the country. I think they’ll be able to slow the game down,” Simmons said. “Kentucky, this is their chance to step up to the table, sit at the big boy table. Thanksgiving dinner is coming around and they usually gotta sit at the side table with the kids. Here’s the big table and I think they’ll be prepared for this.”
Of the seven CBS writers polled, only two are picking Auburn to cover the 7.5-point spread, yet most believe the Tigers will win outright.
Six of the 14 USA Today beat writers covering the SEC picked the Wildcats to cover a seven-point spread. Phil Steele made Kentucky his four-star lock of the week. ESPN’s David Pollack also put Auburn on upset alert during a Friday morning SportsCenter hit.
This week on Stanford Steve and The Bear, ESPN’s two preeminent degenerates led off their show by discussing Cats and the Tigers. Both like Kentucky and the culture Mark Stoops has created in Lexington, but neither of them actually put their foot down and made a definitive pick. Fallica liked the early line for UK but something smells too fishy for his taste as the Cats have become a popular pick ATS.
Over at Athlon Sports, Steve Lassan predicts that UK will cover the spread, but lose a 27-24 heartbreaker.
“This matchup on Saturday might be the most intriguing game of Week 4,” Lassan said. “Talent isn’t the issue for Auburn, as the defense should continue to rank among the best in the SEC. However, for the Tigers to push for the SEC West title, the offense has to make strides under Morris. Nix is primed to take a step forward in his development — provided the line jells early in the year. Georgia and Florida are the clear front-runners in the East, but Kentucky is a wild-card team and should push to be in the top 25. The Wildcats’ offensive line and ground game should find some success against the Tigers’ revamped front. But this contest could come down to whichever quarterback can make just enough plays through the air in a close game.
Similarly, Pete Fiutak from College Football News predicts Kentucky will lose a close one to the eighth-ranked team in the country on The Plains.
“Kentucky is going to be a problem,” Fiutak said. “Auburn will pull this off with Nix coming through on two fourth quarter scoring drives, but it’s going to take a whole lot of sweating to get there with the Wildcats showing up strong on both sides of the ball. Expect a low-scoring grind, but it’ll be entertaining.”
The national play is almost at a consensus: Kentucky will make this a close game and cover the spread before ultimately losing to Auburn.