No. 8 Auburn hosts No. 23 Kentucky on opening SEC weekend

No. 23 Kentucky at No. 8 Auburn, Saturday at noon EDT (ESPN).

Line: Auburn by 7 1/2.

Series record: Auburn leads 26-6-1.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

Both teams have little margin for error if they’re going to contend in their respective divisions, especially in a season where games could be postponed or canceled. It’s a chance for both to establish themselves as for real.

KEY MATCHUP

Auburn’s offensive line against Kentucky’s defensive front. Only center Nick Brahms is back among the Tigers’ starting five while Brodarious Hamm has gotten some attention as a potential standout right tackle. The Wildcats have all upperclassmen on the starting front seven, including noseguard Quinton Bohanna and pass-rushing linebacker Jamar Watson.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Kentucky: QB Terry Wilson. The senior missed most of last season after a knee injury in the second game. He’ll be backed up by Beau Allen while the Wildcats were waiting on the SEC to clear Auburn transfer Joey Gatewood.

Auburn: QB Bo Nix. The Tigers are counting on him to make strides from a promising freshman season under new offensive coordinator Chad Morris. He’ll have playmaking receivers in Seth Williams and Anthony Schwartz, along with a stable of talented but mostly unproven runners.

FACTS & FIGURES

Most of the 17,490 fans allowed to attend will be Auburn students. … Kentucky opens a season ranked for the first time since 1978. … The Tigers have won six of their seven openers under coach Gus Malzahn, losing only to eventual national champion Clemson in 2016. Kentucky has gone 10-3 in its last 13 season debuts. … Nix has thrown 191 consecutive pass attempts without an interception, the second-longest active FBS streak behind Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence (276). … Kentucky coach Mark Stoops opens with an even 44-44 career mark with the Wildcats. … Gatewood was Nix’s backup at Auburn before leaving the team during the season.

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