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Staff Picks - #12 Auburn vs #18 Minnesota

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Outback Bowl, pickin’ winners and eatin’ apps.

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Here we go, everyone. Outback Bowl today at noon God’s time. Final matchup of the 2019 season, so we’re going to ring in the New Year the right way. Right? RIGHT?

Maybe I’ve had my focus too much on basketball this past month, but I just don’t see any way in which Minnesota matches up well with Auburn. Auburn’s defensive line should create havoc for a Gopher ground game that struggled to generate anything on the ground this year. If Minnesota gets anything going offensively, it’ll have to be through the air. Receivers Tyler Johnson and Rashad Bateman each have 1,000 yards, but they account for about 70% of the passing game. They’re both bigger receivers at 6’2”, but I don’t think either of them have Waddle-wheels to separate from the Auburn secondary.

Offensively, I think Bo should be able to go out and have a big game. The Minnesota defense specializes in not giving up big plays, but in doing so they limit themselves on getting tackles for loss, sacks, and turnovers. The ground game should be able to find some space, particularly with Minnesota’s best linebacker skipping the game. Hopefully this senior offensive line, with all of its faults over the years, can go out with a big performance in this Outback Bowl.

Auburn wins big, 41-21.

-Ryan Sterritt

Bowl games don’t matter. Unless you’re a senior, and this is your last game, suiting up for the final time. And you happen to be the best player in the country. And you didn’t get the recognition you deserved. It may matter to that person.

But for the rest of us, it doesn’t matter. Also I hope the Vikings never have a good kicker ever again.

Auburn 51, Minnesota 24.

-Josh Dub

Coach Hayden Fox’s Screaming Eagles play in the lamest conference in football. Our boys are going to be ready to play, ready to make a statement. Our resume is better, our players are better, our coach is better, it’s over. Nice people up there in Minnesota though.

Auburn 48 Minnesota 17

-AU Chief

I love bowl games like this. I have no clue what’s going to happen. But I get a sneaking suspicion that Alpha Gus will pop back up cause he is feeling froggy after out smarting the midget a few weeks ago (if you don’t remember, we beat alabama by using their own substitution rule in our favor). I don’t see any way that Marlon and the Daddy (D Brown) don’t have a big game and won’t physically strap this team to a victory if they have to.

Auburn 44, Gophers 20

-Drew Mac

Auburn is going to win this game and have 10 wins for the third time under Gus, May He Reign Forever.

Auburn 45 minn 14

-Son of Crow

I like Auburn in this game, but I think it will be close to the number. Minnesota will certainly run a few trick plays. They have nothing to lose. They’ll also keep things at a slow pace I think Auburn is the better team, but it may take 3 quarters to show through.

Auburn 27 Minnesota 17

-James Jones

It’s pretty simple. Can Auburn’s offense score 3 TDs? While the Gophers have some weapons at WR, Auburn has faced much more explosive passing attacks this season. They have done a great job containing the top options for teams. Unless Jaylen Waddle sneaks out there as the 12th man for Minnesota’s offense, I think the Tigers defense does what the Tigers defense does & feasts. One of those talented wideouts will probably escape for a long TD & there will be another random 9 play drive that ends in points for the Gophers but that is likely it.

So then it’s to Auburn’s offense. To know if Auburn’s offense will get the job done, you simply need to know if they will can run the football. Auburn went 2-3 in games where they rushed for less than 4 yards a carry. They were undefeated at 4 or more. So can Auburn run the ball on this Minnesota defense?

Well the Gophers have only faced 3 teams that you can compare to Auburn: Penn State, Iowa & Wisconsin. Here’s how they did on the ground.

Penn State: 29 carries 178 yds 6.1 avg 2 TD

Iowa: 31 carries 117 yds 3.8 avg TD

Wisconsin: 35 carries 173 yds 4.3 avg

Ya I expect Auburn to find success on the ground. It won’t be like last year but it will be a game that AU takes control of at the line of scrimmage and wins by 2 scores late.

Auburn 31 Minnesota 17

-AU Nerd

Auburn is the more talented team and it’s the last ride for Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson and company as their college careers come to a close. The Tigers felt disrespected with the bowl assignment but have used it as motivation and seem very focused going into this game. I’m excited to see what the offense will do as we get a taste of what we’ll see next year from Bo Nix and company. I like the Tigers pretty big in this one.

Auburn 38 Minnesota 13

-Will McLaughlin

I fully expect Auburn to be motivated for this game. The sting of the Peach Bowl 2 seasons ago still lingers with these seniors, and with Derrick and Marlon choosing to finish what they started I believe Auburn will come into this game extremely hungry to dominate and win for the 10th time this season. And they absolutely can and should dominate this game.

Keys to victory:

Establish the run game early through speed sweeps, misdirection counters, and read concepts to keep Minnesota’s defense off balance and flustered early

Bo Nix needs to continue to be turnover free and through for 60% completions or better

Seth Williams will see the best coverage most of the day, similar to Oregon. It’s imperative we find Eli Stove/JJ Wilson/Sal in 1 on 1’s and that they capitalize on the opportunity.

Dominate the line of scrimmage defensively. I’d like to see a big game out of Big Kat Bryant knowing he will see the fewest double teams all day. Make Minnesota run outside, and close down the C-gap with your outside ends and linebackers.

Anders needs to have another perfect day kicking the ball.

I fully expect Auburn to win this football game, and expect them to win it big. We’re a better team than they are talent wise, and we are far more battle tested.

Auburn 41 Minnesota 14

-Josh Black

There are two ways to look at this game — either it’ll be like the Northwestern/Wisconsin bowl games and we’ll have nailbiters, or it’ll be like last year. Personally, I’m leaning toward last year. I think Minnesota’s fine and all, as winning ten games in any Power Five conference is an achievement that has to be recognized. They beat Penn State, cool. Lost to Wisconsin and Iowa, though, and couldn’t really do much on either side of the ball in those games. Maybe they’re just not quite there yet.

Auburn, on the other hand, is supremely battle-tested. We’ve pretty much got a sophomore quarterback as Bo Nix now has a full calendar year in the system, and he’s shown that he can answer the call when needed. A true freshman quarterback beat Alabama, and scored whenever he needed to in securing that win. Bo had his struggles early. He’s grown, and he’s made some major throws down the stretch.

Minnesota’s better than Purdue last year, but I don’t think they’re all that good. In running out to a 9-0 record, they beat South Dakota State by a touchdown, Fresno State by three, Georgia Southern by three, and Purdue by a touchdown. It wasn’t a murderer’s row of competition. Point is, they haven’t seen anything like what they’re going to see in the form of #5 and #3 across the line. Defense travels for Auburn, we won’t have our fourth best defensive back covering a Jaylen Waddle type of player, and their offense isn’t going to get a whole lot done. Our running game will get a lot of work, and I think there’s more than one Moss-ing coming from Seth Williams against their secondary. Not as good as last year, but an easy win nonethless.

Auburn 38, Minnesota 13

-Jack Condon