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Three Keys To Victory For Auburn And Score Prediction

BERKELEY, CA - The Tigers take on the Golden Bears in a Pac-12 night game. This is Auburn's first game in California since the 2014 National Championship against Florida State. Let's get into some game information and what it'll take for the Tigers to leave with a win.

Game Information:

When: Saturday, 9/9

Time: 9:30 PM CT

Spread: Auburn - 6

O/U: 54.5

Channel: ESPN

Location: California Memorial Stadium

Weather: 70*

Three Keys To Victory:

1. Stop The California Run Game

California ran for 347 rushing yards, 6 touchdowns, and averaged 6.2 yards per carry. Cal's running back Jaydn Ott had 20 carries for 178 yards with 2 touchdowns and averaged 9 yards per carry. Granted the opponent was North Texas but this is still an impressive feat nonetheless.

This could be a minor concern for the Tigers who struggled against stopping the run against UMass who averaged 5.2 yards per carry. They'll also be without starting Mike linebacker Austin Keys. Players like - Larry Nixon the third and Wesley Steiner will need to step up in Keys' absence.

2. Keep RedZone Robby Rolling

Coach Hugh Freeze kept his promise of Robby Ashford getting packages in this offense. Coach Freeze used Robby's best ability to open up the offense in the red zone. Ashford ran the ball for nine carries with 51 yards and three touchdowns. All three of Ashford's scores came from within the red zone hence the nickname "Red Zone Robby".

Against UMass, Auburn didn't use any pass plays for Robby in the red zone. Which will leave the Cal defensive coordinator - Peter Sirmon up at night. I fully expect Auburn to catch Cal napping in the end zone and Robby throws a touchdown pass this Saturday.

3. The Auburn Run Game

The strength of this offense is the run game and building the play action off of it. Even without star running-back Jarquez Hunter the Tiger run game amassed 289 yards, six touchdowns, and averaged 6.6 yards per carry.

We also may have some good news in the question of when we'll see Hunter play again. Justin Hokanson of AuburnOn3 said he feels confident that Hunter will play against Cal. He also brought up a good point about why Hunter would travel across the country not to play. He also added that it wouldn't make sense but it's possible that Hunter watches from the sidelines.

If we see Hunter suit up for Saturday's matchup I bet we see a man running the ball with his hair on fire. Getting Hunter back would be a boost to an already stout run game. There are guys like Sophomore Damari Alston, Junior Brian Battie, Freshman Christian Burnette, and Sophomore Sean Jackson to carry the ball if Hunter is a no-go for Saturday.

Game Breakdown And Score Prediction

I understand the Cal offense looked extremely impressive and explosive in their week one matchup vs. North Texas but this isn't North Texas that they'll play Saturday night. It also doesn't help that Cal's 6th-year center Mathew Cindric is questionable for this game. The center is the most important player on the offense other than quarterback. They call the blitzes and change the protection at the line in some instances.

Cal quarterback Sam Jackson also exited last week's matchup with an arm injury on his non-throwing arm. He was seen on the sideline wearing a sling. Cal head coach Justin Wilcox said that Jackson is "day-to-day". From everything I've seen Jackson is expected to play vs Auburn. If he's a no-go for Saturday, backup quarterback Ben Finley played in last week's matchup. He was efficient going for 24/34, 289 yards, 1 touchdown, and an interception.

I think the Auburn defense will make enough plays to slow down the California offense. I think they'll be able to contain California running back Jaydn Ott from replicating his week-one performance. Jackson is one of the best athletes on the field but his throwing ability as an Auburn fan doesn't scare me. Especially with Auburn's strength on the defense being the secondary.

I trust Jackson's high school teammate - Payton Thorne who is now the quarterback for Auburn to outperform Jackson. In my opinion, Thorne is a better passer and has more experience at the position than Jackson. I trust Auburn's skill players more than California's skill players.

Give me Auburn 34 California 27. I trust the Auburn coaching staff to put their players in a position to win. I think Cal scores a late-game touchdown to make it look closer than it actually was. This game will be a shootout and I think the team that gets to thirty first wins this game.

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