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Auburn National Championship Game Odds
The old saying goes you have to play the best to be the best. In the case of the 2019 Auburn Tigers, they just played the best. Battling five teams ranked among the AP top-11 and another that came in at No. 17, the Tigers had arguably the most difficult schedule in the FBS. That tends to happen to teams housed in the brutal SEC. Some clubs overcome the difficulty while others win a few of those games against ranked foes and qualify for a mid-tier bowl. Auburn is definitely the latter with three wins over those ranked opponents and another on the way in No. 18 Minnesota in the Outback Bowl.
2020 Auburn Tigers Tide at a Glance
National Championship Odds: +3507
It’s another heavyweight battle between the SEC and the Big Ten when Auburn and Minnesota meet in the Outback Bowl on January 1 with both teams ending the regular season in contrasting ways. Auburn pulled off its biggest win of the season taking down Alabama 48-45 in the season-ending Iron Bowl behind a defense that cracked but also came up with big plays. Offensively, the Tigers should be showing improvement under Bo Nix, but that hasn’t been the case.
Finishing up his freshman season Nix had a less than spectacular game against Alabama throwing for 173 yards with a touchdown on 15 of 30 passing. Like they’ve done much of the season, the Tigers defense kept them in the game. Eight times this season Nix had less than 200 yards passing and finished with 2,366 yards and 15 touchdowns with six interceptions. His completion percentage ended right at 57. There were moments like the season-opener when Nix tossed a game-winning touchdown pass to beat Oregon. He never really hurt the team but he didn’t do a lot to help them upset the likes of Florida, LSU or Georgia.
According to Gus Malzahn Nix is going to win a championship before his time at the school is up. That’s great for the coach since he probably needs one of those to keep his job. Nix might turn into a fine passer and Auburn’s aerial attack may become one of the best, however, that’s not happening before the tussle with the Gophers. Right now the club relies on a solid ground game and a stingy defense.
Ja’Tarvious Whitlow scampered for 114 yards and the Tigers amassed 181 yards on the ground against Alabama. For Auburn it’s about running the football and to do that successfully in the SEC is a chore. With 739 rushing yards Whitlow led four players with more than 300 yards as the Tigers topped the 200 yard mark five times to rank fourth in the SEC and 25th nationally with 211.3 rush yards per game.
For Minnesota it’s about making sure one of the best seasons in program history doesn’t become a side note. Starting 8-0 whipped the faithful into a frenzy. That run ended with a loss at Iowa and two weeks later in the regular season finale, the Gophers dropped a chance to win the Big Ten West and missed out on a chance for a conference championship. With losses in two of their last three, maybe the Gophers’ luck just ran out.
Remember the Gophers opened the season winning their first four games by a combined 20 points. Minnesota’s defense, which currently ranks 15th nationally, surrendered 22 points to Northwestern and allowed 453 yards to Wisconsin in a 38-17 loss. Tanner Morgan dealt with injuries down the stretch and the offense struggled. Morgan needs to be at or close to 100 percent for Minnesota to have a chance.
Regular Season Recap
Playing arguably the toughest schedule in college football, Auburn ended the regular season in style with a win over Alabama. It was Auburn’s fifth game against a team ranked in the top-11 and the sixth against an opponent ranked in the top-17. Auburn went 3-3 SU and 4-2 ATS in those six games, breaking a three-game losing skid against ranked foes with their 48-45 instant classic win over the Tide. Behind a true freshman quarterback the Tigers ended the regular season at 9-3 SU and they were one of the best bets in college football with a 9-3 ATS record.
Auburn took care of lesser opponents all season with their only losses coming to top-10 teams by a combined 21 points. The first setback was 24-13 to Florida. The Tigers held LSU to a season-low point total in a 23-20 loss on the road. The offense struggled against Georgia in 21-14 defeat. “When you look at this whole season, we knew it was going to be a gauntlet. We played the toughest schedule in college football and our guys hung in there. At times it was tough. They never flinched,” Malzahn said.
The first true freshman to start at Auburn in the Gus Malzahn era, Nix proved to be a winner and cemented his status as an Auburn legend by beating rival Alabama in the Iron Bowl. The trust Malzahn showed in Nix was evident from the season-opening win over then No. 11 Oregon right to the victory over Alabama last week. Nix started every game setting numerous freshman passing records in the process. Malzahn was happy with his decision saying that Nix is going to win a national championship before his time is done.
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