No. 12 Auburn will take on No. 18 Minnesota on Wednesday afternoon in the Outback Bowl in Tampa in one of the most intriguing non-New Year’s Six games of bowl season. The Tigers are fresh off an upset win over Alabama to close the regular season, while the Golden Gophers enjoyed a 10-win campaign in which they were in contention for the Big Ten West title for a majority of the season.
What will happen along the gulf coast after we ring in the new year? Let’s break down the matchup and make picks straight up and against the spread.
Auburn: The Tigers will get a huge boost with defensive linemen Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson — who will likely be high draft picks in the 2020 NFL Draft — choosing to play in the game rather than sit out and prepare for their futures. As a result, the stout Auburn defense, which has given up just 4.67 yards per play on the year, should be full strength against a Golden Gophers offense that has built plenty of confidence on offense throughout the season. This game is a chance for Auburn quarterback Bo Nix to take the next step after a solid true freshman season that saw him throw for 2,366 yards and 15 touchdowns. Expect new offensive coordinator Chad Morris to add a few wrinkles to the offense as he begins preparation for the 2020 season.
Minnesota: The Golden Gophers became one of the feel-good stories of the 2019 season as they stayed in the College Football Playoff race until the end of November. The offense, led by quarterback Tanner Morgan and running back Rodney Smith, finished fourth in the conference in total offense at 426.8 yards per game and third at 6.34 yards per play. Defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. has seven interceptions on the season, including one that he returned for a touchdown. He leads a talented unit that allowed just 312.8 yards per game in 2019.
Event: Outback Bowl
Date: Wednesday, Jan. 1 | Time: 1 p.m. ET
Location: Raymond James Stadium — Tampa, Florida
TV: ESPN | Outback Bowl 2020 Live stream: WatchESPN
Outback Bowl prediction, picks
It seems like Auburn is expecting to light up the scoreboard like it did in last season’s Music City Bowl win over Purdue. That’s flawed logic. The Tigers will look a little different with Morris’ influence on the scheme, but it’ll still be the same, predictable Gus Malzahn offense that struggles to make mid-game adjustments. As a result, the Golden Gophers will have a chance late. In the end, Davidson and Brown will make their presence felt and help Auburn win a nail-biter. Pick: Minnesota (+7)
So who will win Minnesota vs. Auburn, and which side of the spread is hitting almost 60 percent of the time? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the spread to back on New Year’s Day, all from the advanced model that has returned almost $4,000 on its top-rated picks.