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Washington: biggest game opening weekend

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SEC fans diss on PAC12, but the fact is, Udub has a very good team. And this opening game really is important, if only because CGM teams often don't turn up for non-conference games. (Do you need a list?) And Auburn's sad showing against UGA ans UCF to end last season.

Anyway, here is a look by a Georgia native who played for Stanford.

Why Auburn-Washington is the biggest game of the opening weekend

Four years into the College Football Playoff system, very few hard-and-fast rules have been established, but one of them is this: a 2-loss team isn’t getting in.

In 2016, 2-loss Big Ten champion Penn State and 2-loss Big 12 champion Oklahoma were passed over in favor of a 1-loss Ohio State team that A) didn’t even win its division, and B) lost to Penn State. Despite all that, the Buckeyes still got in over the Lions. The CFP selection committee returned the favor last year, when 2-loss Big Ten champion Ohio State was kept at home in favor of a 1-loss Alabama team that also didn’t win its division, much less its conference.

This tracks with the historical thinking in college football, where the last two 2-loss national champions are LSU in 2007 (in perhaps the craziest season in college football history) and Minnesota way back in 1960. No matter how much time passes, no matter how much the system changes, the conventional wisdom remains the same: you’re (most likely*) eliminated from the title hunt when your second loss goes final.

Which is what makes Auburn-Washington so interesting, because it’s an intersectional game pitting powers of the South and the West, meeting for the first time, each with legitimate national title hopes — the coaches ranked Washington sixth in their preseason poll, and Auburn 10th. However, both teams are probably losing at least once after Sept. 1, and “probably” is a dramatic understatement.

 

Since the Pac-12 split into two divisions and added a championship game in 2011, not one team has run though its regular season with a 9-0 record. In fact, since the Pac-12 moved to a 9-game schedule in 2006 — a span of 12 total seasons, or 134 separate, individual campaigns — only one team has run through its conference schedule with a perfect record: Chip Kelly’s 2010 Oregon squad that reached the BCS National Championship, and those Ducks didn’t have to turn around and play a conference title game.

So it’s safe to say Washington is going to lose at least once after Week 1.

It’s equally safe to assume that Auburn is going to drop a game after Week 1 as well. Even if we assume the Tigers traipse through a string of games against LSU, Arkansas, Mississippi State (on the road), Tennessee, Ole Miss (on the road) and Texas A&M unscathed, their finishing kick is laughably cruel: a trip to Georgia on Nov. 10, a visit to Alabama on Nov. 24 and then, if the Tigers are fortunate enough to win both games, a likely rematch with Georgia in Atlanta on Dec. 1.

(* If there is a path for a 2-loss team to reach the Playoff, it’s this: Auburn loses to Washington, loses to an undefeated Georgia on Nov. 10, beats Alabama and then wins the rematch with the Dawgs on Dec. 1. Good luck threading that needle.)

With the stakes firmly established, there’s also this: Auburn-Washington shakes up to be a fascinating game.

It’s a rare meeting of experienced, established quarterbacks.

Washington’s Jake Browning is a 4-year starter, paired with a rare 4-year starter at running back in Myles Gaskin. He’ll pair against Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham, a Baylor transfer who stands as the Tigers’ first veteran, established quarterback since Nick Marshall in 2014. It’s also the first time of Gus Malzahn’s 6-year tenure he has returned both coordinators from the year prior, while Bush Hamdan makes his debut as Washington’s offensive coordinator and Jimmy Lake debuts as the Huskies’ defensive coordinator after two years as the co-coordinator.

And then there’s this, after a 1-8 postseason last year, it’s a crucial opportunity not just for Washington, but for the entire Pac-12.

“Every game we want to win,” Lake told the Seattle Times in April, “but this for sure is going to (attract) a lot more eyeballs. It’s going to be on a national scene against probably a top-five opponent, a team that beat both of the teams that were in the national championship last year. It’s definitely going to be a challenge for us, and I know the guys are excited. This is why you come to Washington — to play big games like this.”

“Our kids, they understand who Auburn is,” Chris Petersen added. “We’re talking about playing the best of the best right now. So our kids, they know that. I don’t have to say a word about that.”

Played at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, it’s a virtual home game for Auburn. But if there’s any team that can overcome such a gargantuan “neutral site” disadvantage, it’s these Huskies. Recall the 2011 opener, when Peterson’s Boise State team, led a senior quarterback in Kellen Moore, trekked to Atlanta and knocked off Georgia.

The Auburn-Washington opener is another example of all that’s right with college football, a game on Sept. 1 that will still matter tremendously on Dec. 1.

You can’t win your way into the national championship discussion with an Opening Saturday, but you can lose your way out of it. And either Auburn or Washington is going to do just that.

Bring on the season.

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Considering we struggle against community colleges in our opening games, yes I respect them!

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Yes!  AU respects Udubb.  They are a very good, very well coached team.  They should be favored in this game and I’ll be pleasantly surprised if we come out of Atlanta with a win Sept. 1st. 

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Considering we don't have much depth in the secondary and we're replacing both safties and they love to throw the ball... Its going to be a close game. We haven't had much luck in Atlanta here lately so its going to be a good one.

I would rather lose to a team like Washington than a team we're supposed to beat. That being said, I think we pull it out. Wde

Edited by Randman5000

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4 minutes ago, AUpreacherman22 said:

Yes!  AU respects Udubb.  They are a very good, very well coached team.  They should be favored in this game and I’ll be pleasantly surprised if we come out of Atlanta with a win Sept. 1st. 

Yeah, we're a 3 point favorite.  I respect them and especially their coaching staff, but I also realize that our players are much more highly regarded than theirs and we should have the advantage when it comes to Jimmies and Joes.

Recruiting rankings by year

2014: UW #38, AU #6

2015: UW #26, AU #8

2016: UW #29, AU #9

2017: UW #22, AU #9

2018: UW #14, AU #12

We have the better athletes and also a serious advantage when our D line matches up with their O line.  Also, the only time Gus returned a QB, we beat a conference team in the opener by 24 (2014 Arkansas).  I like our chances.

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Their young linebackers against our young running backs and slot guys.

Ryan Davis might go off in this game.  Early prediction here... 8 catches 130 yards

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Auburn will be ready to play. 

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I wish a portion of our fan base would stop mentioning bad luck in the new stadium in Atlanta. The more that is mentioned the more that thought will permeate through the program. This type of thing trickles down to the players in this era where they read everything. Our ugly losses in that stadium nothing to do with the location and everything to do with poor coaching. 

If we lose to UW it will most likely be because Gus, yet again, had the team unprepared early in the season because his evaluation in practice is weak. 

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1 hour ago, Tiger said:

I wish a portion of our fan base would stop mentioning bad luck in the new stadium in Atlanta. The more that is mentioned the more that thought will permeate through the program. This type of thing trickles down to the players in this era where they read everything. Our ugly losses in that stadium nothing to do with the location and everything to do with poor coaching. 

If we lose to UW it will most likely be because Gus, yet again, had the team unprepared early in the season because his evaluation in practice is weak. 

We do seem to have trouble with the turf in Mercedes. Other than that I agree about location. Now about the other part, if Steele, Lindsey and Co. could prepare each week for the actual opponent while Gus mentally prepares for Bama each week we might have something. 

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8 minutes ago, gr82be said:

if Steele, Lindsey and Co. could prepare each week for the actual opponent while Gus mentally prepares for Bama each week we might have something. 

BRILLIANT!!! 

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We probably have a slight personnel advantage over them and are playing much closer to home so the crowd should be factor in our favor.  But they have a big advantage with their Head Coach.  His teams are always well prepared and we never know what we are going to get.  

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1 hour ago, gr82be said:

We do seem to have trouble with the turf in Mercedes. Other than that I agree about location. Now about the other part, if Steele, Lindsey and Co. could prepare each week for the actual opponent while Gus mentally prepares for Bama each week we might have something. 

I can't remember any turf issues but also between my lack of sobriety during those games combined with my desire to completely forget our last 2 outings there may be contributing to that lol

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Peterson is one of the best in the business. He'll have that team ready to go. 

I just hope we are finally prepared for an opener under Gus. 

First Auburn play, TE up the seam for 30 yds. 

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3 hours ago, gr82be said:

We do seem to have trouble with the turf in Mercedes. Other than that I agree about location. Now about the other part, if Steele, Lindsey and Co. could prepare each week for the actual opponent while Gus mentally prepares for Bama each week we might have something. 

 

3 hours ago, AUpreacherman22 said:

BRILLIANT!!! 

I second that!

Wat Eagle.

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7 hours ago, Tiger said:

I wish a portion of our fan base would stop mentioning bad luck in the new stadium in Atlanta. The more that is mentioned the more that thought will permeate through the program. This type of thing trickles down to the players in this era where they read everything. Our ugly losses in that stadium nothing to do with the location and everything to do with poor coaching. 

If we lose to UW it will most likely be because Gus, yet again, had the team unprepared early in the season because his evaluation in practice is weak. 

To be absolutely fair, Washington is a helluva good team. 

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We have more talent 

Rebuttal:

giphy.gif

Now hit me with the Bama like excuses 

Edited by DAG
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2 hours ago, johnnyAU said:

Peterson is one of the best in the business. He'll have that team ready to go. 

I just hope we are finally prepared for an opener under Gus. 

First Auburn play, TE up the seam for 30 yds. 

This narrative that we suck in openers is beyond fiction.  We've lost one opening game under Gus.  That Clemson team we lost to went on to win the National Title.  In fact, only one of his five openers so far have been against a non-Power 5 team.

Openers under Gus:

2013:  31-24 W vs Washington St

2014: 45-21 W vs Arkansas

2015:  31-24 W vs Louisville

2016: 13-19 L vs Clemson

2017: 41-7 W vs Ga Southern

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23 minutes ago, Brad_ATX said:

This narrative that we suck in openers is beyond fiction.  We've lost one opening game under Gus.  That Clemson team we lost to went on to win the National Title.  In fact, only one of his five openers so far have been against a non-Power 5 team.

Openers under Gus:

2013:  31-24 W vs Washington St

2014: 45-21 W vs Arkansas

2015:  31-24 W vs Louisville

2016: 13-19 L vs Clemson

2017: 41-7 W vs Ga Southern

It's not about just game 1. It's the fact that teams under Gus start slow. It has historically taken Gus 3 or 4 games to know what he has in a team. This isn't fiction at all. It's very much a fact. And yeah, while we have won a majority of times game 1, we usually look very sloppy, and simply don't play well the first 3 or 4 games of the season. 

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1 hour ago, AUwent said:

To be absolutely fair, Washington is a helluva good team. 

You're right. Didn't mean to insinuate that they aren't good enough to beat us. They most certainly are.

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11 hours ago, autigeremt said:

Auburn will be ready to play. 

I really want us to be ready for once to start the season. We will see. 

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44 minutes ago, Auburn2Eugene said:

It's not about just game 1. It's the fact that teams under Gus start slow. It has historically taken Gus 3 or 4 games to know what he has in a team. This isn't fiction at all. It's very much a fact. And yeah, while we have won a majority of times game 1, we usually look very sloppy, and simply don't play well the first 3 or 4 games of the season. 

We are 15-6 under Gus in September.  Maybe it's me, but I don't care if our team looks like a cross between Roseanne Barr and Danny DeVito in a bikini as long as we're winning games.  Note too that four of those losses came in 2015/2016.  Our better teams (2013, 2014, & 2017) have lost twice in the opening month.  At LSU and at Clemson.

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2 minutes ago, Brad_ATX said:

We are 15-6 under Gus in September.  Maybe it's me, but I don't care if our team looks like a cross between Roseanne Barr and Danny DeVito in a bikini as long as we're winning games.  Note too that four of those losses came in 2015/2016.  Our better teams (2013, 2014, & 2017) have lost twice in the opening month.  At LSU and at Clemson.

So teams with actual talent levels comparable to ours? A lot of the early teams we play our not all that great besides Kansas State in 2014 and the year we blew out LSU. I don’t have a dog in this fight but all I know is we can’t be trying to feel out in the opener against a top ten opponent . We need to have a sound game plan and the boys need to be firing on all cylinders. 

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It took a kick return TD to beat WSU.  We should have beaten both of those Clemson teams. Getting sacked 11 times last season and running an inept, watered down offense isn't being prepared. Playing 3 different QB's and running the spinning Chandler Cox formation multiple times the previous season isn't being prepared. We almost got beat by a mediocre Louisville team....and give me a break with the Ga. Southern game. 

We always come out of the gate slowly...offensively anyway. Our D was primed and ready the last 2 years though. Thank you Kevin Steele! I'm afraid we'll have to lean on them early again this year. 

Edited by johnnyAU
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7 minutes ago, Brad_ATX said:

We are 15-6 under Gus in September.  Maybe it's me, but I don't care if our team looks like a cross between Roseanne Barr and Danny DeVito in a bikini as long as we're winning games.  Note too that four of those losses came in 2015/2016.  Our better teams (2013, 2014, & 2017) have lost twice in the opening month.  At LSU and at Clemson.

Roseanne and Danny Devito visual was not what I expected after taking the first bite of my sandwich😆

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