The Outback Bowl is set to be an old school defensive battle between the Auburn Tigers and Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Auburn has competed with the best of the best all season but fell short of the College Football Playoff after three losses to AP Top-10 teams.
Minnesota had an historic undefeated start to the season but stumbled before the finish line, losing two of the final three games.
- The favorite has covered the spread in seven of Minnesota’s last eight games.
- 15 of Auburn’s last 18 games against AP-ranked teams have gone UNDER the total points line.
- Auburn has a 9-3 ATS record this season. (Stats courtesy of Statschecker).
#18 Minnesota (10-2) made program history by beginning the season 9-0 before losing on the road to #20 Iowa 23-19.
The Golden Gophers then fell short of a Big Ten Championship appearance after losing to #12 Wisconsin 38-17.
Despite the tough finish, Minnesota had plenty to be proud of including a 38-17 win over #4 Penn State which launched the Golden Gophers to #8 in the nation.
Sophomore wide receiver Rashod Bateman had a monster season, ranking 13th in the nation with 1,170 yards, 15th with 11 receiving touchdowns and 10th averaging 20.5 yards per catch.
Sophomore cornerback Antoine Winfield Jr. has been amongst the nation’s best in coverage, snagging the fourth most interceptions in the FBS (7).
#12 Auburn (9-3) fell victim to the fourth toughest strength of schedules in College Football, which resulted in a 3-3 record against AP Top-20 opponents.
The Tigers defeated #11 Oregon 27-21, #17 Texas A&M 28-20 and #5 Alabama in the Iron Bowl 48-45. Auburn’s only three losses came at the hands of #10 Florida 24-13, #2 LSU 23-20 and #4 Georgia 21-14.
The Tigers have one of the top defenses in the country, allowing the 13th fewest points per game (18.6 ppg) which is lead by projected Top-10 NFL Draft pick Derrick Brown.
The senior defensive end has 50 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles and recoveries, as well as four pass deflections.
Offensively, Auburn is led by freshman dual threat quarterback Bo Nix, who has shown flashes of his big play abilities.
Nix completed 57 percent of his passes for 2,366 yards, 15 touchdowns and six interceptions, with 301 rushing yards and seven rushing scores.
My pick is Auburn to cover the spread (-7) and the UNDER Total of 53.5 points.
The Tigers’ average margin of victory this season has been by 22 points which makes me confident about them covering a one-possession spread.
Another confidence boost is that Minnesota is a much different team on the road compared to at home and the Golden Gophers will have to travel to Tampa, Florida on New Year’s Day for the Outback Bowl.
One thing working in favor of the Golden Gophers is their capability of playing sound defense. Minnesota ranks right outside the Top-25 allowing 22.4 ppg.
Nonetheless, my expectation is Auburn will control the tempo of the game from start to finish with the Golden Gophers finding the endzone only twice against the ferocious Tigers defense.
Final score prediction: Auburn Wins 27-17