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Auburn will play its third straight game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta in September.

The Washington effect: What an Auburn win in season opener could mean for Tigers

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The first game of the season, how do you see it play out?

AUBURN, Ala. — Lots of people will be paying close attention to Auburn’s 2018 season opener against Washington, which could end up being one of the most interesting games in the early weeks of the season.

It likely will be a top 15 matchup by the time Sept. 1 arrives, and it even could be a meeting of two top 10 teams.

While it’s difficult to project exactly how Auburn’s third consecutive game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta will unfold months in advance — the Tigers still have lots of how questions to answer, including those regarding their offensive line and running back — there are some possible outcomes that come to mind.

MORE: How Gus Malzahn, Auburn football offense could get tricky during coming season

Auburn has a history of slow starts, especially during its last two seasons. Malzahn’s teams that have taken the field in September have been entirely different from the ones that have thrived in November. With a foe like Washington and months to prepare, the Tigers don’t want to start slow. However, if history repeats itself, which it often does, the SEC team should have enough talent to top its Pac-12 opponent.

A convincing victory would be propel Auburn toward a successful 2018, even with the obvious weaknesses of the Pac-12 conference. If the Tigers struggle early and only sneak away from Atlanta with a win, it’s going to cause an uproar. The fan base immediately will be calling for Malzahn’s job and be dreading trips to Georgia and Alabama.

The flip side of that is that Auburn could get off to a fast start and roll over the Huskies. If that’s the case, you could see the hype surrounding the Tigers rise a bit, but probably not much.

MORE: What to expect from Auburn football’s Jeremiah Dinson in 2018 after spring shoulder injury

The Tigers’ loss to UCF in the Peach Bowl was the worst-case scenario. Within a few hours, a team that knocked off top-ranked Georgia and Alabama was essentially a laughing stock. Because of that performance against the Knights, Auburn is going to have to beat up on Washington to regain its credibility.

Even with all that Auburn football still has to decide, there is one outcome you can most almost count on: the defensive front front will be something Washington running back Myles Gaskin hasn’t seen before.

That likely bwill e the difference in the game and largely the reason why Auburn should ultimately emerge with a win. If Kevin Steele’s veteran defensive line dominates the way it should, the Tigers should have little trouble starting off the 2018 season with a win.