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Who will miss the 2021 Citrus Bowl due to injury and Covid-19/NFL draft opt-outs

While Auburn could play the Citrus Bowl without lead running back Tank Bigsby, Northwestern will take the field without star corner Greg Newsome II.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 02 Northwestern at Indiana Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In recent years, college football has seen an increasing number of players opt out of bowl season. That trend has continued in 2020, with some athletes choosing to skip part or all of the year due to concerns about the ongoing pandemic.

As it pertains to the Citrus Bowl, both the Auburn Tigers and Northwestern Wildcats have seen their ranks depleted by opt-outs as well as injuries.

Auburn roster update

Injury

Starting running back Tank Bigsby will not play in the Citrus Bowl, according to a report. He leads Auburn with 834 rushing yards at a six-yards-per-carry clip. Right tackle Brodarious Hamm, also listed as questionable, could miss the game as well.

Starting safety Jamien Sherwood, who ranks third on the team in tackles (65), will miss the game as will starting wideout Anthony Schwartz and defensive back Christian Tutt. These injuries come on top of linebacker K.J. Britt, who suffered a thumb injury during the second game of the season and never returned.

Opt-out

Linebacker Chandler Wooten decided to opt-out of the 2020 season back in August. Defensive back Devan Barrett joined him in early December, choosing to skip the rest of the year.

It’s not clear the reason why, but according to a report from AL.com’s Matt Zenitz, Tiger DB Roger McCreary won’t suit up against Northwestern either. This season he has 45 tackles, seven TFLs, six pass breakups and three picks.

Northwestern roster update

Injury

In terms of injury, the Wildcats enter the game fairly healthy. They list reserve defensive lineman Trevor Kent as questionable to play on Friday.

Opt-out

The most notable absence for either team, star cornerback Greg Newsome II has opted out of the season in order to prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft. He and freshman Brandon Joseph formed one of the top corner tandems in the Big Ten. Newsome joins offensive tackle Rashawn Slater who opted out before the season began to prepare for the draft.

Transfers

The Wildcats have been hit by a slew of players who entered the transfer portal shortly after the Big Ten Championship game. This season’s leading rusher Drake Anderson, as well as the team’s third-leading rushing leader Isiah Bowser, have both decided to leave NU. The ‘Cats second-leading pass-catcher, Kyric McGowin, has also announced his intention to transfer. Defensive lineman Eku Leota, who led the team with four sacks, has also entered the portal.