The Auburn Tigers and the 14th ranked Northwestern Wildcats will battle it out on New Years Day at Camping World Stadium in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl. The Tigers are sitting at 6-4 this season and are coming off a 24-10 win against Mississippi State in their last game. In that game, sophomore quarterback Bo Nix finished 15-of-32 for 125 yards and two total touchdowns. The Wildcats are 6-2 and are coming off a 22-10 loss to Ohio State in which senior quarterback Peyton Ramsey finished 24-of-37 for 224 yards and two interceptions.
Both the Tigers and the Wildcats have good offenses but the defenses will be the difference in this game. Let’s take a deeper dive into this matchup to see where we should be placing our wagers.
(Late line movements and injury reports were updated on Thursday evening.)
The line has stayed relatively flat for this contest as the week has gone on. Northwestern opened as a four-point favorite when the lines came out and, as of Thursday evening, now stands as a 3.5, four or 4.5-point favorite at the majority of sportsbooks for this contest. 55 percent of the bets ATS are backing the Cowboys giving the points as they look to earn the victory in the Citrus Bowl.
The total for this contest has stayed flat during this week. After opening at 43.5 points, the total has remained steady at 43.5 at the majority of sportsbooks. The bets as to which side of the total this one ends up on is currently split down the middle at 50/50.
Game-time Weather: It’s going to be a terrific afternoon in the Sunshine State for this contest. At kickoff, the temperature is expected to be in the low-80s under cloudy skies. The mercury will rise into the mid-80s during the game with the clouds remaining for the game. There is no chance of precipitation in the forecast. Winds are expected from the south around 14 miles an hour with the wind gusts kicking up to about 17 miles per hour during the game.
Running Like a TankThe times where Auburn’s offense has looked great is when there has been a solid dose of the running attack in there and that means freshman running back Tank Bigsby is getting touches. This season, Bigsby has 138 attempts for 834 yards (6.0 yards per carry) and five touchdowns. In the last game he played, he finished with the best game of his collegiate career as he had 26 rushing attempts for 192 yards. If he can repeat that performance but sprinkle in a trip to the end zone as well, this could be a chance for the Auburn Tigers to pull off the upset.
Northwestern has been a good defense against the run this season as they are allowing 156.5 rushing yards per game. This number ballooned after their game last week against the Ohio State Buckeyes where they gave up 399 rushing yards on 44 attempts and two touchdowns (9.1 yards per carry). The lead runner was Trey Sermon who ran 29 times for 331 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The blueprint is there to dominate this Wildcat defense but it would be shocking to see a team like the Tigers repeat as they don’t have the offensive line to do such a thing.
Auburn Injury Report:
OUT: DB Devan Barrett, LB K.J. Britt, OL Brandon Council, DE Daniel Foster-Allen, DE Jay Hardy, WR Anthony Schwartz, DB Jamien Sherwood, DB Christian Tutt, LB Chandler Wooten
Questionable: RB Tank Bigsby, TE Tyler Fromm, OL Brodarious Hamm
RCB Needs to be Seeing REDSenior wide receiver Ramaud Chiaokhia-Bowman needs to play like he has this season for Northwestern’s offense to click. On the season he has 38 catches for 447 yards and four touchdowns. Those numbers might not jump off the page like some other wide receivers but remember the caliber of quarterback he is playing with. In his last game against Ohio State, he had eight catches for 103 yards. He hasn’t found the end zone in his last three games so that will be something to watch against this Auburn defense. If he can put up another big game, the Wildcats will be in a great position to win this one.
Auburn will be coached in this bowl game by Kevin Steele, the defensive coordinator. Gus Malzahn was let go weeks ago and Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin will take over after the bowl game. Will the Tigers play for Steele knowing that a new sheriff is coming to town?
Auburn has been a good team at defending the pass this season as they allow 237.8 yards through the air. In their last game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs, the top receiver, Jaden Walley, finished with eight receptions for 100 yards. That is a few yards shy of Chiaokhia-Bowman’s total from his last game so if he can match the same numbers then that would be considered a victory for Northwestern.
Northwestern Injury Report:
OUT: RB Jake Arthurs, DL Willy Boatman, DE Jaiden Cameron, RB Marcus Cisco, LB Cullen Coleman, LB Joe Dehaan, OL Connor Foster, P Jake Genyk, DE Jason Gold Jr., LS William Halkyard, WR Braeden Heald, OL Payne He’Bert, DB Garnett Hollis Jr., LB Michael Jansey Jr., WR JJ Jefferson, QB Zac Krause, LB Jeremiah McDonald, LB Grayson Metz, WR Jack Moses, RB Connor Newhouse, DB Greg Newsome II, TE Trey Pugh, P Hunter Renner, QB Carl Richardson, OL Maxwell Skidmore, DL Luke Trifunovic, TE Hunter Welcing, DB Nigel Williams
Questionable: WR Berkeley Holman, DE Trevor Kent, WR Will Lansbury, OL Conrad Rawley
- Northwestern: 7-1-1 ATS in their last 9 games
- Northwestern: 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 games as a favorite
- Auburn: 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games vs Big Ten
- Auburn: 0-4 ATS vs a team with a winning record