CRAWFORD | Early point spread for Louisville-Auburn continues to - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Early point spread for Louisville-Auburn continues to widen

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Auburn University is installing the largest video scoreboard in college football at Jordan-Hare Stadium, and the Tigers appear ready to use it.

Phil Steele, whose football yearbook hits newsstands on July 1 but already is available via iTunes, doesn't rank Auburn as highly as some other preseason publications. He has the Tigers at No. 14, but notes that he ranks the Tigers 8-for-8 in his listing of top position units, and calls them a “legitimate national title contender.”

They add defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, formerly head coach of Florida, to a defense that Steele believes had talent, but under-produced.

That's why the early line for Auburn's 2015 opener against the University of Louisville in Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta's Georgia Dome on Sept. 5 shows the Tigers as 13-point favorites over the Cardinals. The line was set by the betting website, and updated this week.

Louisville opened as a 10-point underdog at 5dimes in February and was a 12.5-point underdog after it was updated in April.

If that number were to hold, it would be the first time a Bobby Petrino-coached Louisville team was a double-digit underdog. 

The Cards were only 7-point underdogs in the Belk Bowl last season, a game they lost to Georgia 37-14. Outside of games against rival Kentucky, U of L is 4-19-1 against the Southeastern Conference, with two of those wins coming in the 2013 Sugar Bowl (over Florida) and the 1991 Fiesta Bowl (over Alabama).

Steele calls U of L a “clear contender for the ACC title” despite some questions about its offensive line and defensive backfield.

He ranks the Cardinals No. 37 in his preseason index and says “two of my nine sets of power ratings call for double-digit wins.”

ESPN rated Louisville No. 24 in its preseason preview magazine, but its Football Power Index had the Cards 20 spots lower, at No. 44, and gives them just a 27 percent chance of victory over Auburn in the opener. It sets the win projection for the Cards at 6.9.

ESPN's magazine has Auburn at No. 4 nationally, while The Sporting News has the Tigers at No. 3 entering the season.

In Louisville's favor: Bobby Petrino has never lost an opener as Louisville's coach and relishes marquee games to start the season. The last time Auburn opened a season in Atlanta, it lost to Clemson.

But this Auburn team is much better, and is looking to make an opening-game statement of its own.

How close is football season? ACC Football Media Days begin one month from Friday in Pinehurst, N.C. SEC football media days begin three weeks from Monday in Birmingham, Ala.

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