BEFORE THE GAME: WEEK 9

By October 27, 2017Talent Columns

Auburn is on its bye week, but we here at BTG believe in no weeks off.

The Tigers went up to Arkansas and did what they’ve done in every SEC game this season: they built a comfortable lead in the first half. However, in following a satisfactory half with a spectacular third quarter that put the game out of reach, Auburn was able to do against Arkansas what fans desperately wanted to see against LSU a week earlier. Instead of attempting to protect a lead and relying on the defense to be flawless, Auburn hungered for more points and continued to attack, turning a 17-6 lead into 38-6 before the beginning of the fourth quarter.

Arkansas is a team in the midst of a bad season, and a win over Auburn would have generated some much-needed positivity around the program. Auburn came to Arkansas vulnerable, having just lost a very disappointing game to LSU. What could have been a catastrophic loss for Auburn and a signature victory for Bret Bielema became a rout, reminding Auburn fans of its team’s impressive firepower.

The reemergence of running back and 2016 sensation Kamryn Pettway as an impact player on the Auburn offense was a welcome sight after seeing him struggle earlier in the season. Pettway’s rare combination of size, speed, shiftiness and brute strength – the talents that he used to rush for over 1200 yards last season – were on full display when Auburn turned to him in the third quarter against Arkansas. If Auburn can continue leaning on Pettway, particularly after giving defenses a steady diet of running back Kerryon Johnson, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about Auburn’s chances down the stretch.

Auburn will enjoy the week off and allow its banged-up roster to heal. Its next opponent, Texas A&M, must first overcome a physical Mississippi State team. I’m interested to see if the A&M defense holds its own against the MSU running game; the Bulldogs struggle to get anything going if they’re forced to become one-dimensional. If Texas A&M is still showing the flaws on defense that were evident in its collapse against UCLA and high-scoring overtime win against Arkansas, Mississippi State could score a lot of points.

We’ll have more on Auburn @ Texas A&M next week.

PECK’S PICKS: (last week: 2-4, YTD: 24-21)

TCU -6.5 @ Iowa State: The Cyclones have become one of the best stories in college football, but they simply won’t be able to keep up with TCU’s offense.  PECK’S PICK: TCU -6.5

Duke +15.5 @ Virginia Tech: Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech’s head coach, will be one of the most sought-after coaches in the nation after the season; he’s played a key role in turning VT into one of the best offenses in the conference. PECK’S PICK: VT -15.5

Washington State -2.5 @ Arizona: Mike Leach and Rich Rodriguez are a pair of mad scientists with quarterbacks who run their respective offenses to absolute perfection. Khalil Tate has had college football buzzing, and I expect the Wildcats to ride him to another improbable victory. PECK’S PICK: ARIZONA +2.5

Georgia -13.5 @ Florida (in Jacksonville): The Bulldogs have proven unstoppable in SEC play thus far; Florida had extremely close wins against Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky, three teams Georgia smashed. Florida has done very well in this rivalry before, but they are simply outmanned this year. PECK’S PICK: GEORGIA -13.5

Penn State +6.5 @ Ohio State: Penn State has looked great, but betting against an Urban Meyer team playing at home, particularly in a conference game, is almost always unwise. PECK’S PICK: OHIO STATE -6.5

 

Enjoy the games!

Dan Peck
Co-Host, THE DRIVE (4-6PM, ESPN 106.7 FM,
ESPNAU.com)
Host, AFTER THE GAME (Immediately following Auburn University football games, Wings 94.3 FM,
WingsFM.com)
http://www.twitter.com/DanielAllenPeck
DPeck@aunetwork.com