Saturday, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. ET
Lots of offense and not much defense...that's the plan for this one.
Auburn has talent on both sides of the ball and should handle Washington State with relative ease, but this is the team that looked lost, out of shape and eventually gave up last season. Is a new coaching staff led by head coach Gus Malzahn what Auburn needs to turn the page? We'll see.
Malzahn will find success with this offense for one reason—Auburn has running backs. Tre Mason was a 1,000-yard rusher last season, Cameron Artis-Payne looked like a Ben Tate clone in the spring game and Corey Grant is a burner that can take it to the house from anywhere. As long as junior college transfer quarterback Nick Marshall can manage the game and not make mistakes, Auburn will be fine.
Washington State doesn't run often, so we won't find out much about Auburn's front seven in that department on Saturday. But if the front four can get consistent pressure on quarterback Connor Halliday, that's a good sign of the future.
How much will newcomers Carl Lawson, Elijah Daniel and Montravius Adams factor in? It'd be better for Auburn if the incumbents take the job and run with it. If guys like Craig Sanders, Gabe Wright and Ken Carter have big days, it will allow the newcomers to get some experience and create valuable depth down the road.
Marshall will toss three touchdowns and rush for another, but he'll make some mental mistakes in the passing game that give the coaches something to work on next week in practice. Auburn's defense won't be impressive, but it will force a couple of key turnovers to put this one away.
Prediction: Auburn 38 - Washington State 27