No. 6 Washington heads South to face No. 9 Auburn
No. 6 Washington (10-3 last season) vs. No. 9 Auburn (10-4) in Atlanta, 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
Line: Auburn by 1½.
Series record: First meeting.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Both teams want to push their way into the early national championship conversation behind star quarterbacks and experienced defenses.
Auburn’s defensive front versus Washington’s offensive line. The Tigers have a deep, talented front line led by tackles Dontavious Russell and Derrick Brown. The Huskies return four blockers who started at least five games last season, with 2016 All-Pac 12 left tackle Trey Adams returning from injury.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Washington: DBs Taylor Rapp and Byron Murphy are preseason All-Americans. Murphy had three interceptions in six games last season while missing seven because of injury. They’ll be trying to slow down an Auburn passing game led by QB Jarrett Stidham and WR Ryan Davis.
Auburn: RB Kam Martin moves into the starting role to replace SEC offensive player of the year Kerryon Johnson. The Tigers have had at least one 1,000-yard rusher in each of the past nine seasons. Redshirt freshman JaTarvious Whitlow could also play a big role after a strong offseason.
FACTS & FIGURES
The Tigers are playing their third straight game in Atlanta, ending last season with losses in the Southeastern Conference championship game and the Peach Bowl. ... The Huskies are 5-7 against ranked teams in season openers dating back to 1989. Auburn has only opened with a Top 25 team eight times in the AP poll era dating back to 1936, going 1-7 and dropping the last five. The only win was 7-0 against then-No. 8 Tennessee to start the 1957 national championship season. ... Washington RB Myles Gaskin is the leading active career rusher in FBS with 4,055 yards. That’s just 51 yards shy of Napoleon Kaufman’s school record. ... Auburn hasn’t faced a Pac-12 team since opening the Gus Malzahn era with a 31-24 win over Washington State to start the 2013 season. ... Auburn and Boise State are the only two FBS programs to have at least one 1,000-yard rusher in each of the past nine seasons.
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