Betting split update: The DraftKings Sportsbook betting public is firmly backing Auburn in this one. The Tigers are a seven-point favorite on game day, and thus far, 77 percent of the handle and 73 percent of the tickets bet on the point spread are backing the Tigers.
In what is the favorite game of both casual dining calories and our friends at Banner Society, #16 Minnesota will take on #9 Auburn in the Outback Bowl in Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on New Year’s Day.
The Battle For The Free Appetizer (Bloomin’ Onion is War Eagle, Coconut Shrimp for Ski-U-Mah) has seen some classics this decade. It was the home of the last 4th quarter comeback Kirk Cousins ever lead before failing upward into guaranteed NFL money, and don’t forget the best non-mafia hit ever in West Tampa by Jadeveon Clowney that guaranteed his #1 overall draft selection before he got back to the sideline.
Minnesota was the toast of college football through November, with a 31-26 win over Penn State at home to get to 9-0. Dreams of the College Football Playoff froze after letdown 23-19 Ferentz’ing in Iowa City the following week, followed by a beatdown in Minneapolis by Wisconsin to end the season with the B1G West on the line.
The consolation prize for the best Gopher season in decades is an SEC team in 70 degree weather, plenty of bowl events on the beach, and all the steak you can eat. Sounds terrible.
Auburn went full Auburn this year, going 9-3 in the toughest division in college football and winning the Iron Bowl. This meant half the fanbase freaking out about losing Gus Malzahan to Arkansas, and the other half sending U-Haul trucks to his driveway while on hold with Paul Finebaum. Legacy admit and freshman quarterback Bo Nix had a nice inaugural college campaign, with big wins over Oregon and Alabama showing the Tigers have a bright future.
New offensive coordinator Chad Morris will get the reins next year after winning as many SEC games as you did in two years at Arkansas, but Malzahan will be the primary play caller in Tampa.
Game Time/TV Channel/Streaming
The Outback Bowl will be at 1 p.m. EST in Tampa, Florida, the true home of the Cuban Sandwich and a wonderful city for both millenials and lovers of craft beer. It can be seen on ESPN, and via live online stream at WatchESPN.
Point Spread, Totals, Odds, Trends
Spread: Auburn -7.5 (opened 10)
Total: 53.5 (opened 51.5)
Money Line: Auburn -255
Minnesota is 6-4-2 ATS this season, but 0-2-1 in their last three after becoming America’s darlings. They’ve also struggled with stout defenses this season, as both losses came to elite teams by SP+ defensive rating (#5 Iowa, #14 Wisconsin). In those two games quarterback Tanner Morgan took 11 sacks combined, and Auburn rates as the fourth-best team by SP+ defensively. It’s been a terrific year for Morgan, (28 TD’s, 6 INT’s, 180.4 rating), but he might struggle for time if their SEC opposition is motivated.
Auburn beat expectations both in the media and on the gold sheet, finishing 9-3 vs. the line and on the schedule this season. They’re riding a wave of momentum behind Nix and a young core that has reason to set expectations heading into spring practice, and Malzahan’s run-heavy spread often wears down smaller teams in the second half. With one of the best defenses in America, look for the trick-play loving Tigers to possibly empty the book on key downs.
The Best Bet
I like Auburn at -7.5, but love them more than Outback’s baked potato soup at -7. The only red flag here might be Malzahan’s record in bowl games (2-4 overall despite a 49-point beatdown of Purdue last year), but if the Tigers show any motivation they are clearly the more talented team and will have a semi-home game with the crowd in Tampa.
Defenses tend to dominate bowl games early, and with both teams having more than 30 days off this might be a slog to start. There’s value on under 27.5 1st half as well, with a possible double-down on the Tigers in the second half if the game plays to expectations early.
Pick: Auburn -7.5, 1H Under
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