Boiler Up! Purdue Will Hammer Down Auburn in Music City Bowl

Tuesday, December 18, 2018 2:00 PM UTC

Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018 2:00 PM UTC

Get the latest college football picks on the Music City Bowl between Auburn and Purdue. The game from Nashville, Tennessee, is on Friday, December 28, at 1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. Bet confidently with tips from SBRpicks.com.

Music City Bowl: Auburn (7-5 SU, 5-7 ATS) vs. Purdue (6-6 SU, 7-5 ATS)Friday, December 28, 1:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TennesseeFree NCAAF Picks: Boilermakers ATS and SUBest Lines Offered: BetOnline

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Nothing is at stake for Auburn. The Tigers had hoped to make the college football playoffs, but suffered a majorly disappointing season instead and will play a low-profile Big Ten team. Head coach Gus Malzahn will resume his pre-2016 role and call the plays after offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey was fired. In 2018, Auburn’s offense ranks 104th in yards per game, which is down from 27th last season.

The problem, though, is not necessarily the play-calling. Auburn's offensive line replaced four departed starters with inferior talent. and running back star Kerryon Johnson is in the NFL. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham has regressed in terms of decision-making, efficiency, and aggression throwing downfield. Auburn needs to channel its 2013 season and recruit a dual-threat quarterback such as Nick Marshall and rebuild its offensive line and rush attack.

Purdue gets to face a big-name SEC team. Coach Jeff Brohm seeks his second straight upset bowl win.

How They Got Here

Purdue suffered a rocky start to its season, capped off by an embarrassing loss against Eastern Michigan. It reestablished itself under quarterback David Blough, covering its next five games and upsetting Ohio State. The rest of Purdue’s season was up and down, but it beat Indiana in the finale to achieve its sixth win for bowl eligibility. Auburn struggled against top conference competition, choking away a late lead to LSU, losing by double digits to Mississippi State, Georgia, and Alabama, and even losing to Tennessee.

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Why Auburn Can Win/Cover

Auburn has a superb defense, which the numbers don’t do justice to, because Auburn’s offense ranks 108th in time of possession and the defense eventually gets worn down. Auburn’s front seven is its strength, as was expected based on the talent that it returned — nine of 10 on the defensive line and the top tacklers at linebacker. The D-line ranks 32nd in opportunity rate, which means it excels at preventing the opposing offensive line from opening holes and allowing its running back to gain at least four yards. The front seven also ranks 30th in havoc rate, which means it causes added stress for the offense by batting down passes, tackling ball carriers for a loss, etc. Purdue is 0-4 ATS when scoring fewer than 28 points.

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Why Purdue Can Win/Cover

Purdue’s offense is filled with playmakers. Blough is a reliable quarterback who completes 66% of his passes, accrues 8 yards per pass attempt, and has thrown for 3,500 yards and 25 touchdowns. He’s supported by a talented running back duo in D.J. Knox, who averages 5.8 YPC, and Markell Jones, who averages 5.1. The most talented player is arguably Rondale Moore, who has accrued more than 100 receptions, 1,164 yards and 12 touchdowns. With his speed, he is always capable of breaking big plays. He has achieved at least one 40-yard reception in seven different games. His explosiveness will be an issue for an Auburn defense that is vulnerable to big plays, ranking 87th in IsoPPP+. Auburn is 1-5 ATS when allowing more than 20 points.

Common Opponents/Series History

Purdue played Missouri, which plays in the SEC, although it didn’t face Auburn this year. Purdue lost, but covered, in a 40-37 shootout. Missouri ran 89 plays and accrued more than 600 yards of total offense, but Purdue hung around thanks to big plays in the passing game.

The Verdict

Bowl games are all about motivation and Auburn has nothing to play for in a lower-profile bowl game. I think Auburn would rather go 6-6 and beat LSU, Alabama, or Georgia, than go 8-5 and lose to all three. Purdue will want to boost its program prestige by beating a big-name program, and its offense can create a lot of problems for Auburn with its explosiveness. Not just Moore, but Knox and others help it rank seventh in IsoPPP+. They were all big contributors in Purdue’s 49-20 upset of Ohio State and their season would be successful with wins against two teams that had realistic playoff hopes before the season began.

Music City Bowl Trends & Betting History
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