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Washington St. Cougars vs. Auburn Tigers Preview: The Offenses Take Center Stage

Both teams are technically going to field defenses tonight, but that's not where most of the fans are going to be looking


Washington St. Cougars vs. Auburn Tigers, 7 p.m. ET, ESPNU

This is a game that's all about the offenses. Not necessarily because they will do so well -- that's still to be determined -- but because both of these programs are at a juncture where the fan bases are watching the offense with nervous anticipation. It's not clear that either of them will get what they wanted.

For Washington State, the first year under Mike Leach was something of a disappointment. The Cougars were outscored 404-245, and they won just two games, three of them against Eastern Washington out of the FCS. Six of the nine losses were by double digits. They failed to crack the 300-yard barrier four times in 2012. Some of the games weren't terrible on offense, but this didn't profile as the kind of high-flying offense that Leach specialized in during his tenure at Texas Tech.

The issue is a bit different at Auburn. We don't really need to reacquaint anyone here with the rolling disaster that was the Tigers offense in 2012, we hope; the defense was also nothing special, but that was sometimes easy to overlook in the wake of the offense's incompetence. In any case, the Auburn faithful are hoping that Gus Malzahn's return will allow him to do what Scot Loeffler could not with a team that still largely consists of Malzahn's players on offense.

All that said, I'm not sure I would look for a barn-burner in this game. Both teams will probably show some flashes on offense, and it's unlikely to be a low-scoring affair, if for no other reasons than the defenses might not allow it. Both coaches have the capacity to turn things around, but it's not going to happen in one week.

Auburn 34, Washington State 20