The race to the 2018 NCAA Football Championship gets underway this week with an action packed lineup of games taking to the field. One of those games will take place at 3:30pm ET at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia as the Washington Huskies and Auburn Tigers square off in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff. For these two teams, they are just one of four matchups taking to the field during week 1 of the 2018 NCAA Football schedule featuring two top 25 ranked teams.
For each of these two teams this opening meeting of 2018 is just the first of one on a very long college football schedule. While a win for either of these two teams could go a long way in building a resume needed to make the 2018 NCAA Football playoffs. A loss could play a key role in either team missing the playoffs in 2018. As we get set for this top 25 matchup the big question for many is whether we will see the Jake Browning of 2016 or Jake Browning of 2017. In 2017, Browning threw for just 2,719 yards with 19 touchdowns compared to the 3,430 yards and 43 touchdowns in 2016.
Here is the keys to this top 25 matchup for both the Washington Huskies and Auburn Tigers.
Keys To The Game
Washington Huskies – Play Aggressive & Fast on Defense
While the Huskies have the fire power on the offensive side of the ball with Browning returning at quarterback, the key to their success in week 1 against the Tigers will come on the defensive side of the ball. Much of that success will come from the Huskies defense to play aggressive and fast from the opening whistle to the final whistle of the contest. Last year the Huskies ranked 11th in all of College Football in sacks per contest. For the Huskies that success should continue in 2018-19 as the team is returning nine of their 11 starters including Ryan Bowman who led the team with 5.5 sacks. Other key starters returning include Tevis Bartlett who was second on the team with four sacks while leading the team with 12 tackles for a loss. If the Huskies can start out fast and can force some key turnovers they could make it difficult for the Tigers to win this contest.
Auburn Tigers – All on the Arm of Jarrett Stidham
The Tigers have some key weapons on both sides of the ball but the key to their success in 2018 will come on the arm of quarterback Jarrett Stidham. Stidham who was brilliant for most of the 2017 NCAA Season finished with 3,158 yards to go with 18 touchdown passes. While showing poise and potential, Stidham struggled in key top 25 matchups last season failing to throw a touchdown pass against the Clemson Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide in two losses while failing to throw for over 165 yards in losses against the LSU Tigers and Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Title Game. If the Tigers want to win this game on Saturday, Stidham will need to put together a big time performance against a very solid Huskies defense.
What’s next for these two teams:
Washington Huskies – The Huskies return home on September 8th, 2018 to take on North Dakota Fighting Hawks.
Auburn Tigers – The Tigers return home on September 8th, 2018 to take on Alabama State Hornets.