It’ll be the Ducks and Tigers for the second time ever on Saturday in Arlington, Texas in the 2019 Advocare Classic — a game in which Auburn is favored by 3.5 points.
As you might remember, the last time Auburn faced Oregon was in the 2011 BCS National Championship Game, where a late field goal propelled the Tigers to a 22-19 victory and a national title to go with it.
Now, seven and a half years later, the Tigers boast another extremely talented defense, perhaps the best one that Oregon senior quarterback Justin Herbert has ever seen. The defensive line alone has three potential first-round NFL Draft picks in Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson and Nick Coe. The Auburn defense allowed just 3.7 yards per carry in 2018.
“Tremendous amount of respect for Auburn and the way they do things,” Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal said. “I’ve had the opportunity to watch them play, being an assistant coach and playing against them. They’re as physical and impressive as you can see.”
While the experienced Oregon offensive line battling with the experienced Auburn defensive line may be the marquee storyline, the Tigers have talent everywhere on defense, most notably with returning safeties Jeremiah Dinson and Daniel Thomas.
“The physicality of their corners, the physicality of their safeties, the speed and explosiveness of their linebackers,” Cristobal said of the defensive talent all over the field for Auburn. “There are so many battles.”
Offensively, Bo Nix will become the first true freshman quarterback to start a season opener for Auburn since 1946, and the first in the SEC since 2004.
What Nix may lack in experience, however, he makes up for in pure talent. He was rated as a five-star prospect by every recruiting service coming out of Pinson Valley High School in Pinson, Alabama, and is fresh off winning Mr. Football in the state of Alabama in 2018. On top of that, he holds state records in both total yards and touchdowns, and won two state titles in his high-school career.
“He’s a very talented football player,” Cristobal said of Nix. “Whenever you name a starting quarterback, it means you have full confidence in that young man.”
On Auburn’s offensive line, all five starters will be seniors and they will boast over 100 career starts of experience as a unit.
Sophomore JaTarvious Whitlow will be the lead running back, with Kam Martin and Shaun Shivers figuring to mix in as well.
Much like Oregon, there are a lot of question marks on the outside. Their top wideout, Anthony Schwartz, broke his hand in fall camp and is listed as a game-time decision. Eli Stove and Will Hastings were both dealing with injuries of their own throughout camp, but they appear to be good to go for the opener. Seth Williams should factor into the passing game as well, but much of the receiving corps rotation is still in flux.
“Our guys have watched film,” Cristobal said. “They understand that this is a great football team, and that games like this always require every ounce of everything you have.”
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