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How and what to watch for the Citrus Bowl: Auburn vs. Northwestern

The Tigers and Wildcats will face off against each other in the Citrus Bowl as one of the early games on New Year’s Day.

Head coach Gus Malzahn of the Auburn Tigers reacts with Bo Nix after he rushed for a touchdown against the Texas A&M Aggies during the second half at Jordan-Hare Stadium on December 05, 2020 in Auburn, Alabama. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In the second of four games on New Year’s Day, the Auburn Tigers will take on the 14th-ranked Northwestern Wildcats at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL.

The Tigers (6-4) defeated the Mississippi State Bulldogs 24-10 to wrap up the regular season on December 12. In that game, mobile quarterback Bo Nix was 15-of-32 for 125 yards and a touchdown. He also produced 24 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground. As a team, the Tigers ran for 218 yards, led by running back Tank Bigsby, who had 192 rushing yards on 26 carries.

The quarterback-wide receiver duo of Nix and Seth Williams will be a factor to watch in the Citrus Bowl. Williams has 42 receptions for 688 yards and four touchdowns. However, they are facing a Northwestern defense that is allowing 182.3 passing yards and 15.5 points per game this season.

As for the Wildcats (6-2), they are coming off of a disappointing 22-10 loss to the fourth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in the Big Ten title game. Northwestern’s run defense got destroyed by Buckeyes running back Trey Sermon. He accumulated 331 rushing yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns.

Luckily, the Wildcats will not be going up against a running back like that in the Citrus Bowl. That being said, one thing they need to continue to do is create takeaways. In the Big Ten title game, Northwestern forced Justin Fields into two interceptions and are averaging 2.2 takeaways per game this season.

Game Time/TV Channel/Streaming

You can watch Auburn and Northwestern in the Citrus Bowl on Friday, January 1 at 1:00 p.m. ET on ABC. You can stream it via WatchESPN or the ESPN app with a cable or streaming service login.

Point Spread, Totals, Odds, Trends

Point spread: Northwestern -4
Point Total: 43.5
Money line: Northwestern -186, Auburn +150

Citrus Bowl Betting splits

Auburn: (56% of handle, 41% percent of bets)
Northwestern: (44% of handle, 59% percent of bets)

The Best Bet

With Gus Malzahn out the door and interim head coach/defensive coordinator Kevin Steele stepping in, no one knows what to expect from Auburn. Meanwhile, Northwestern is trying to prove that their performance in the Big Ten Championship is not a reflection of who they are. This season both teams have been good against the spread and moneyline. But if I had to choose I’m taking Northwestern, who has been the better team with a defense that is creating multiple takeaways per game.

Pick: Northwestern -4

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