Auburn vs


at Orlando
Fri, Jan 1
10:00 AM Pacific
Rotation: 329
Odds: Northwestern -4.5, Total: 44

Game Analysis

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Strong Opinion – Auburn (+3.5)  20   Northwestern  19

Note: Auburn’s star RB Tank Bigsby is not going to play. He’s worth 1.6 points. I had already factored in WR Schwartz being out but CB Roger McCreary was announced as out yesterday and he’s worth 0.5 points. The line has moved to +4.5 points. If you didn’t play the Strong Opinion yet then I’d still consider Auburn a Strong Opinion at +4 or more.

Auburn hasn’t beaten a high-quality team all season – their best wins are against Kentucky and Ole’ Miss – but three of the Tigers’ four losses have come against top-10 teams Georgia, Alabama and Texas A&M and the Tigers’ only other defeat was due to bad turnover luck, as they outgained South Carolina by 179 yards in their loss to the Gamecocks. Meanwhile, Northwestern’s only win of 3 points or more against a good team (17-7 over Wisconsin) was the result of a +4 turnover margin (outgained by over 100 yards in that game by the Badgers). What we have here are two good but not great teams and my model likes Auburn.

Auburn’s offense depends on their ability to run and for quarterback Bo Nix to not throw interceptions, which most of the time he doesn’t (16 of 23 career starts with no interceptions thrown). Nix isn’t bad overall in the pass game, as his low interception rate makes up for his mediocre yards per pass play numbers (6.0 yppp against teams that would allow 5.9 yppp to an average QB) but throwing against Northwestern’s strong pass defense (only 4.2 yppp allowed) will be a challenge, even with 1st-Team All-Big 10 CB Greg Newsome III not playing (preparing for NFL). However, Nix can get out of trouble with his legs when he can’t find an open receiver (465 yards on 78 runs) and Auburn’s strong ground assault (5.6 yards per rushing play against teams that would allow just 4.7 yprp to an average team) should work pretty well against a Wildcats’ defense that was gashed on the ground by Ohio State and has allowed 5.4 yprp for the season. Northwestern will also be without top pass-rusher Eku Leota, who has decided to transfer.

While Auburn should be able to move the ball on the ground, I don’t see any form of offense that is likely to work consistently well for the Wildcats in this game. Northwestern is below average both running (4.4 yprp against teams that would allow 4.8 yprp) and throwing the football (5.4 yppp against teams that would allow 6.0 yppp) and Auburn’s defense is good defending both the run (5.2 yprp allowed to teams that would average 5.7 yprp) and the pass (6.3 yppp allowed to quarterbacks that would average 7.3 yppp against an average defense).

Overall the math projects Auburn with an edge of 22 total yards with turnovers about even (0.1 edge for NW) and the Tigers have better special teams, which is important for field position in what should be a defensive struggle.

In a normal bowl season the math difference from the line would be enough to make Auburn a Best Bet but the SEC and Big 10 did not play out of their conference this season so there is more variability in the strength of each conference, which requires a stricter threshold for games to be considered math model plays. Northwestern does, however, apply to a 26-82-1 ATS bowl situation, so there is some technical support to go along with the line value. Auburn is a Strong Opinion at +4 points or more (originally at +3 or more).

  • Team Stats
  • Game Log
  • Auburn
  • Northwestern


  • Run Plays 33.8 35.0
  • Run Yards 178.2 165.5
  • YPRP 5.6 5.2


  • Pass Comp 19.1 21.1
  • Pass Att 31.8 32.9
  • Comp % 60.1% 64.1%
  • Pass Yards 212.2 237.1
  • Sacks 2.0 2.5
  • Sack Yards 10.9 15.2
  • Sack % 5.9% 7.1%
  • Pass Plays 33.8 35.4
  • Net Pass Yards 201.3 221.9
  • YPPP 6.0 6.3


  • Total Plays 67.6 70.4
  • Total Yards 390.4 402.6
  • YPPL 5.8 5.7


  • Int 0.7 0.9
  • Int % 2.2% 2.7%
  • Fumbles 0.1 0.4
  • Turnovers 0.8 1.3
  • Points 25.7 23.7
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