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Sunday Night Thoughts - Thanks, Minnesota?

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A little bit of football, a little basketball...

NCAA Football: Alabama at Auburn John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

We’re about two and a half weeks away from Auburn’s date with Minnesota in the Outback Bowl, and for the Tigers, they’ll be trying to prevent the first eleven win season in Golden Gophers history.

However, as we shift quickly to basketball for a moment, Auburn will need to thank the Minnesota hoops squad for putting them into another Final Four on the hardwood.

AUBURN IS THE FINAL UNDEFEATED POWER FIVE TEAM IN THE COUNTRY.

The hardwood Gophers beat #2 Ohio State tonight to give Auburn a piece of that sweet, sweet midwestern territory, and now the Tigers are the final perfect team in the Power Five conferences. You already know, but Auburn plays host to NC State on Thursday night at 8 pm CST for their next game, and we certainly hope that the Tigers are a little quicker to start than they were yesterday against Saint Louis.

As for the other undefeated teams (San Diego State, Liberty, and Duquesne), here are their next challenges...

  • DUQUESNE: 12/21 vs Austin Peay; 12/22 vs UAB; 12/29 vs Marshall
  • LIBERTY: 12/20 vs Towson; 12/21 vs Akron/Tulane; 12/29 @ LSU
  • SAN DIEGO STATE: 12/18 vs San Diego Christian; 12/21 vs Utah; 12/28 vs Cal Poly

If Auburn can get through the non-conference portion of the slate undefeated, I feel pretty solid about the Tigers’ chances to be the final perfect team in the country. All three teams above had fairly difficult challenges ahead of them before the new year, and could very easily fall before 2020, if not Christmas.

Alright, enough platitudes for Minnesota. That’s all they deserve for now.

We’re only going to apologize if Derrick Brown breaks one of their offensive linemen in half. Remember what happened last year when Auburn took on a Big Ten team in a bowl game? It took the Tigers three plays to score, and then posted 56 first half points before shutting it down and still setting numerous bowl game records. To be fair, that was Purdue. They had one player that realistically could have played in the SEC in Rondale Moore, but Minnesota’s got a few.

The Gophers allow 22.4 points per game, but have one an All-American defensive back in Antoine Winfield, Jr., who racked up a ton of numbers (83 tackles, 7 INTs, 3.5 TFLS, 3.0 sacks, 2 FF) and earned numerous honors. While Minnesota’s given up some points at times, they really don’t allow many yards (just 312/game) but if you look at the two losses, it definitely wasn’t the defense’s fault.

In the defeat to Iowa, the Gophers outgained the Hawkeyes by 140 yards, but coudn’t run the ball and had to play from behind. When they lost to Wisconsin in the final game of the season, well, that might have been the defense’s fault just a bit. Yes, it was in a driving snowstorm at home, but the Badgers were much more well-suited to it with Jonathan Taylor in the backfield. However, Taylor didn’t really do much on the ground, just going for 76 yards, but he did catch a couple long balls and scored three times. What Minnesota showed that they were susceptible to was the pass, which may be what we’d like to see.

It’s said that teams often make a ton of improvement during bowl practices. You get fifteen sessions to work on your team, and that’s why coaches just want to get to that eligibility standpoint. It’s a huge springboard for next year. Look at the number of times that we’ve seen Auburn teams make strides during bowl prep as they look toward a successful following season. This year will afford us a chance to watch Bo Nix effectively finish his first full calendar year in the Auburn system by the time we kick off against Minnesota. After coming in for the spring, he’ll be turning into a sophomore by the time we finish the game, and taking fifteen extra sessions with Seth Williams and Anthony Schwartz won’t hurt. If Auburn can put on a passing clinic in Tampa, we might see a similar offensive performance to what we saw last season (but not 63 points, that was wild).

Moreover, the defense should be ready and raring to go with Derrick Brown back on the line for another game. Everyone is playing in this game because they made a pledge to play football for Auburn, and they’re going to fulfill that pledge. It’s refreshing to see.

More to come, let’s enjoy the ride on the hardwood and the gridiron for now. War Eagle.