Location: Jordan-Hare Stadium – Auburn, AL
Date: Saturday, September 7
Time: 6:30 p.m. CT
Records: Auburn 1-0 (0-0 SEC), Tulane 1-0 (0-0 AAC)
Betting Line: Auburn -17.5; O/U 51.5
All-Time Series: Tulane leads 17-14-6
Last Meeting: Auburn 38, Tulane 13 (October 21, 2006)
Quick Hits: Okay, we’ve got to start this off by saying... we don’t know who’s coming into this one riding higher. Seriously, both Auburn and Tulane gave us thrilling Week One victories that came in two drastically different fashions. The Wave drubbed visiting FIU last Thursday night in what many (including myself) think was a wake up call to the AAC. The Greenies’ 42-14 win had a little of everything and left the Panthers gashed, gutted and dumbfound.
Then there’s these Auburn Tigers. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around what Bo Nix was able to do to Oregon on Saturday evening down in Arlington. The Tigers’ unlikely comeback was sparked by the freshman who didn’t look like he belonged anywhere else but on that field in Jerry World with the nation’s eyes squarely on him. There may not be a moment too big for this kid.
From Tulane’s Perspective: Doesn’t this just feel a little... different than last year’s trip to Ohio State? Sure, the Wave is still presented with the daunting task of facing a top-ten P5 opponent on the road but after last Thursday night’s blowout win, it suddenly doesn’t seem like Tulane will be a doormat in this game.
Quarterback Justin McMillan has given the Greenies a reason to believe early on in this 2019 season after throwing for 199 yards and two scores against FIU. The reigning AAC Offensive Player of the Week will be looking to continue his hot play against an Auburn defensive unit that held Justin Herbert and mighty Oregon to a mere 21 points last weekend. McMillan will need to be sharp again and play mistake-free ball if Tulane is to have a fighting chance. Last week, McMillan accounted for three touchdowns and had no picks.
The Green Wave backs will have to help their QB1 out and it certainly seems like they are up to the task. In their first game Tulane backs Darius Bradwell and Corey Dauphine combined for 166 yards and two touchdowns. In fact, Dauphine only touched the ball three times and two of those totes went to the house. To say that #6 is a game changer is a vast understatement.
Auburn’s D line, though, is one of the best in the business. They held Oregon to under 100 yards rushing, notched three sacks and authored six tackles for loss in their season opener. The Wave’s big boys are going to have their work cut out for them in the trenches. This is where they may really miss having someone like former stud John Leglue to anchor the front.
Look for the Green Wave to run the lightning-fast offense we saw against the Panthers again this week. The best way to keep an opponent on their toes, no matter how talented, is to throw a lot of plays at them in a hurry. In their opener, Tulane ran 68 total plays and frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if we see even more this time out. New offensive coordinator Will Hall seems to already have perfected the up-tempo attack and he may bust it wide open against the Tigers.
Darnell Mooney and company will have to navigate an Auburn secondary that is led by DB Jeremiah Dinson. Dinson led the team in tackles (13 total) against the Ducks and even got in on a sack. The dynamic senior will undoubtedly be draped all over the receiver Mooney who showed out for the Wave last Thursday, snagging four passes for 84 yards and a score. Tight end Tyrick James also could play a major role against the Tigers’ back end. James also had four receptions and a touchdown versus FIU.
Much like Auburn, Tulane also boasts one of the nation’s best defensive lines. Junior Patrick Johnson is poised for a breakout season after a 10.5-sack performance in 2018 and he could make a statement against the Tigers’ offensive front that surrendered seven tackles for loss last week. If Johnson wants to make a name for himself he needs to get to quarterback Bo Nix a few times on Saturday evening.
From Auburn’s Perspective: This may sound dry but quite frankly the Tigers just need to do what they’re supposed to do and they should be fine. They currently sit as a 17.5-point favorite and they do so for a reason: on paper they’re the more talented team across the board. That sort of mindset, though, can’t take over. If the Tigers come into this overlooking this Tulane team, it could be dangerous.
National phenomenon freshman QB Bo Nix needs to pick up where he left off against Oregon and not have a hangover from the enormous high he experienced on Saturday night. Obviously, the Green Wave secondary is not that of Oregon’s but they aren’t anything to be scoffed at either. Already in this young season they’ve grabbed a pick and knocked away seven passes.
The Tulane D line, as we’ve already mentioned, must be kept at bay because if they aren’t Nix will have a long day in the pocket. Running back Jatarvious Whitlow, who had 110 yards on 24 carries last week, will need to take some of the pressure off by finding holes and bursting through.
Receiver Anthony Shwartz missed the season opener with a hand injury and is currently listed as questionable for Saturday’s contest. Auburn would love to have the 6-foot, 179-lb wideout back but if they don’t they’ll still have plenty of help on the outside. Sal Cannella and Seth Williams tallied a combined 83 yards and one touchdown a week ago and will most likely be a big part of Gus Malzahn’s game plan again.
Final Thoughts: In my season preview for the Wave, I originally had Auburn beating the Greenies easily 41-17. In light of recent events (aka Tulane dropping 42 on FIU), though, I feel like I have to narrow that gap at least a little. I still believe the Tigers will win but I don’t think we’ll see the same spanking the Wave got last year in Columbus or the year before in Oklahoma. I wouldn’t even be shocked if Tulane kept it close for a while and gave everyone in Jordan-Hare a little scare. Georgia State stunned Tennessee after all, so anything can happen.
Many think of Tulane as a dark horse in the American this year but I can promise you they’ll be seen as a front-runner if they pull this one off.
Prediction: Tulane 28 - Auburn 41