NCAA’s Week 1 Battle of Felines

August 26, 2016 by CFP Staff

Both fans and NCAA football betting sportsbooks are ready to get back in the action with the start of the FBS season this upcoming week. Schools across the nation made it their mission to build the hype around opening week by scheduling as many dramatic matchups as possible. Chief among these is the ballgame that will have fans saying "Tigers, and Tigers, and refs. Oh, my!" which is a reference to the matchup between the Clemson Tigers and the Auburn Tigers and, of course, one classic piece of American culture.

This non-conference matchup will be one of three fantastic ACC-SEC battles that will occur on opening weekend, including Ole Miss vs. Florida State and Georgia vs. UNC. Out of these three ACC-SEC pairings the Clemson game will be the only one not be played at a neutral site with the Tigers traveling to take on the Tigers (Auburn). Auburn may have a home field advantage but NCAA football betting sportsbooks aren't convinced that will be enough for them to overcome Clemson. Clemson is coming in with -290 odds, which paints as the favorites over the opposing Tigers whose odds are +245. While Auburn's odds differ greatly from Clemson's, there are other week 1 matchups that have a larger, more drastic variance between the odds. Take for example Massachusetts (+11000) at Florida (-33000).

A large part of Clemson's expectations heading into this season, and this game, can be attributed to the man they have lining up under center. Deshaun Watson was Heisman finalist last year and is the frontrunner to take home the award this year. Watson's stats are phenomenal; he threw for 4,104 yards and 35 touchdowns while running for 1,105 yards with 12 end zone appearances. But if the stats aren't enough to convince you of Watson's talents just wait until you hear what Alabama's legendary head coach Nick Saban had to say about him. While being interviewed on a segment for ESPN, Saban called Watson "the most significantly dominant player that we've played against since Cam Newton in 2010". Being compared to an NFL star is meritorious in its own right, but being compared to the reigning MVP is another thing entirely. Looking at stats is always important when you bet on sports, but listening to those who best understand the game is even more.

Facing Newton's doppelganger will certainly be a challenge for Auburn, but they still have the tools to overcome Clemson. Clemson's sack production dipped by 73.5% last season, if Auburn is able to establish its running game early in the game, then they should have no problem with pass protection. Auburn has a dynamic 1-2 punch in the backfield made up of Jovon Robinson and Kerryon Johnson, who should have no problem moving the ball against Clemson. If Auburn is able to get Clemson to bite on a play action they should be able to score on a secondary that has only one starter returning. The strength of Auburn's team definitely lies in their running game – their quarterback situation is still a mess – but if they are able to take advantage of a juvenile Clemson secondary, they might just pull off the upset. If they do then many NCAA football betting sportsbooks will have to recalculate Auburn's odds for the season.