Payton Thorne is Not a Lock to Start for Auburn

Nov 26, 2022; Tuscaloosa, Al, USA; Robby Ashford (9) scrambles out of the pocket during the game between Auburn and Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics

It’s QB controversy season in the SEC, and one battle that seems to be developing is on The Plains at Auburn. When Hugh Freeze brought on Payton Thorne in May, it was presumed that Thorne would be Auburn’s starter.

However, according to the latest odds from BetOnlineAG, Robby Ashford is actually a slight favorite to start the season as QB1. Ashford is a -140 favorite, while Thorne’s odds sit at +100. In 12 games last season under Bryan Harsin, Ashford completed under 50% of his passes for 1,613 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. He also rushed for 710 yards and 7 touchdowns.

It seems like Hugh Freeze has gone out of his way to praise Ashford’s development this offseason, and if he believes that Ashford can continue to progress as a passer, it may be enough for Freeze to make him the starting quarterback.

Ashford seemed to improve over the course of the season, playing probably his best game of the year in the Iron Bowl, but Thorne has also proven to be a capable and efficient QB for a major program already.

While it’s entirely possible that Thorne still ends up as the starter, the fact that this appears to be a true quarterback battle may surprise many and will be a fascinating storyline to monitor as the season approaches.