Start Time: 4:00 PM EST, Saturday, November 21
Location: Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, Alabama
TV: SEC Network
Records: Idaho: 3-7. Auburn: 5-5. Auburn leads the overall series 1-0.
Live Stats: here.
Line: Idaho +34. Over/Under 62.5.
Idaho Outlook: The Vandals are coming off of a three-game losing streak in which they held a 20 point lead at halftime in two of those losses.
Looking at the statistics of starting running back Elijhaa Penny, the Vandals look to be very impressive in the run game. Outside of Penny, there is little to speak of with backup Aaron Duckworth only averaging 3.3 yards per carry. The third leading rusher on the team is quarterback Matt Linehan with 193 yards rushing on the season.
Very few teams in the nation are as dependent on one player in the rush game as Idaho is with Penny. Overall, the Vandals rush for only 144.4 yards per game as a team.
In a season that saw leading receiver Dezmon Epps lost for the season, and his entire Vandals career, due to an off the field issue, Idaho has seen several receivers step forward. Callen Hightower, Trent Cowan, and Deon Watson have been able to fill the hold left by the departure of Epps with the trio combining for 108 catches on the season.
Quarterback Matt Linehan has been fairly accurate at 63.6%, but has not found the end zone as often as needed for the Vandals to be successful. Much of that has to be attributed to the 6-3 quarterback being only a sophomore. He has significant room for improvement throughout his career.
Sadly, we need to talk about the Idaho defense. It is one of the worst in the nation, especially versus the run. Teams are rushing for 6.6 yards per carry and nearly 300 yards per game versus Idaho.
To put into good perspective, only Georgia Southern, Navy, Air Force, Oregon, and Baylor rush for more than the 279.1 yards per game allowed by the Vandals. On the bright side, Idaho only gives up 209.8 yards per game in the air. Overall, Idaho gives up 488.9 yards per game of total offense.
Players to watch on the Idaho defense include: Broc Westlake, Quinton Bradley, and Chris Edwards.
Auburn Outlook: With a matchup versus Alabama on the horizon, the Tigers desperately need a win over Idaho.
The strength of the Tigers offense in in the running game. The boast the #18 success rate, a top 10 stuff rate allowed, and a top 45 rushing S&P+. With running backs Peyton Barber and Jovon Robinson, they have a couple of very talented players.
The problem that faces Auburn in the run game is the inability to go the distance. They are second to last in the nation in explosive running plays, severely inhibiting the ability to score points. Overall, the Tigers rush for 191.3 yards per game.
The Auburn passing game is downright weird. They have found more success with Sean White behind center, but he has only thrown for one touchdown in six games played. His 57.7% completion rate is also worrisome.
When White and company do complete passes, they are going to Ricardo Louis. The Senior is targeted on 29.3% of all pass attempts and has a 14.6 yards per catch average. Behind Louis, the only players with double digit catches on the season are Marcus Davis, Melvin Ray, D'haquille Williams, Roc Thomas, and Kerryon Johnson.
After getting heaped with lots of praise heading into the season, the Auburn defense has been a bit of a disappointment this fall. They have been scorched for 45 by LSU and 54 by Arkansas while unable to hold any opponent under 10 points. The positive for Auburn is much improved play versus Texas A&M and Georgia. If Idaho is going to have much luck versus the Tigers defense, it will be in the running game.
Players to watch on the Auburn defense include: Cassanova McKinzy, Johnathan Ford, and Carlton Davis.
Prediction: On paper, this should be an absolute bloodbath. The problem is that Auburn has played down to their opponents on multiple occasions. I expect that to be the case for a while before Auburn pulls away in the second half. Auburn 45, Idaho 13.