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Outback Bowl Preview: Minnesota vs Auburn

It’s been a special season in Minnesota, and the Gophers look to cap it with their fourth bowl win in the last five years. Standing in their way is an Auburn squad that beat Alabama in its last outing and has won 10 of its last 13 postseason contests.

Outback Bowl Matchup Information
  • Spread: Auburn -7
  • Total: 53
  • Date/Time: January 1, 1 p.m. ET
  • Location: Tampa, Florida
  • Stadium: Raymond James Stadium
  • TV Coverage: ESPN
  • Minnesota vs Auburn Matchup Report & Updated Odds

Outback Bowl Odds Analysis

This is the first time this season that Minnesota has been an underdog of a touchdown or more, and early bettors were quick to take the points after the Gophers opened as 8-point dogs. The OVER has also seen strong support, moving the total up from an opener of 51.5.

Minnesota News & Notes

After a 9-0 start to the season, any aspirations the Gophers had of winning a Big Ten title (or even an appearance in the national playoff) were flushed away with two losses in their last three games.

But don’t think for a minute that Minnesota isn’t excited about the opportunity to play on New Year’s Day for just the second time since 1962. In fact, Gophers players sent handwritten thank-you notes to the Outback Bowl committee, the first time organizers of the Tampa game had received such a gesture.

A 15th-ranked defense has anchored Minny’s success this season, led by sophomore defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr., whose seven interceptions were fourth-most in the nation. That D was a bit more susceptible down the stretch, however, allowing 22 points or more in its final four contests after giving up an average of 10.3 in its previous four. They’ll also be without senior linebacker Kamal Martin as he preps for the 2020 NFL Draft.

The Gophers have gone OVER in five of their last six games, which have seen an average of 54.17 points scored.

Auburn News & Notes

It’s hard for Auburn fans to complain about a nine-win season (the program’s second-most victories since 2013), but the Tigers might still wonder what might have been if it weren’t for several tight losses to elite opponents.

Auburn’s three defeats this season came against Georgia, LSU and Florida — all teams that were ranked in the top seven of the final coaches’ poll — by an average of seven points, including a three-point loss at LSU.

The Tigers have had better luck lately against inferior foes, going 11-1 SU and 10-2 ATS in their last 12 as favorites. Auburn’s offense should come in with plenty of confidence after hanging 48 on Alabama in its regular-season finale, which came on the heels of a 52-0 blowout of Samford.

Freshman QB Bo Nix has taken better care of the ball down the stretch as well, throwing zero interceptions in his final four games after throwing five in his first six outings. Head coach Gus Malzahn is expected to call the offensive plays in the Outback Bowl since former Tigers offensive co-ordinator Kenny Dillingham has already moved on to Florida State.

Betting Pick: Auburn -7

The ground game is Auburn’s bread and butter, and I like the Tigers to have success against a Minny defense that gave up 173 rushing yards last time out against Wisconsin.

Shark Bites
  • Minnesota is 6-2 ATS in its last 8 as an underdog.
  • Auburn is 11-1 SU and 10-2 ATS in its last 12 as a favorite.
  • Auburn is 10-3 SU in its last 13 in the playoffs as a favorite.