Matchup: Wisconsin vs. Auburn (-7, 63.5 at JustBet)
Date/Time: Thursday, January 1st @ 12:00 PM (EST)
Location: Tampa, FL (Airing on ESPN2)
Preview: The Auburn Tigers take on the Wisconsin Badgers in the Outback Bowl on New Years Day from Tampa, FL.
The Wisconsin Badgers will be looking to make amends for a lackluster performance in the Big Ten championship being blown out by Ohio State 59-0. The Badgers will have Barry Alvarez on the sidelines after head coach Gary Anderson bolted the program to take the head coaching position at Oregon State. Anderson did not leave on a sour note, as he met with his players individually and stressed it was the right move for him and his family heading out west. It was a very respectful departure, and Wisconsin has handled it with class. Barry Alvarez is certainly no stranger to this situation. Alvarez is the former Wisconsin coach and is the current Athletic Director and has the most wins in the schools history. Alvarez coached on an interim basis back in 2012 in the Rose Bowl in a 20-14 loss to Stanford, in what was a very competitive game. Alvarez will have a talented team to lead that features the nation’s forth best rushing offense averaging 314 yards per game. They are led by none other than Heisman Trophy runner-up Melvin Gordon, who had 2336 yards rushing this season.
The Auburn Tigers come in to Thursday’s contest at 8-4, and really struggled down the stretch losing 3 of their last 4 games. The wheels really fell off after being upset by Texas A&M 41-38. After that loss they were blown out 34-7 at Georgia, and lost in the Iron Bowl to Alabama 55-44. In the Iron Bowl, the Tigers surrendered 21 points in the fourth quarter, and it was a rather deflating loss. The Tigers have a very strong offense behind dual threat quarterback Nick Marshall, and are averaging 488 yards per game. Their defense has struggled this year though, allowing 5.6 yards per play and 388 yards per game.
I’m recommending a play on the Wisconsin Badgers on New Years Day. I’m not concerned with the coaching change for Wisconsin, as Anderson left on good terms and made what is somewhat a lateral move. He didn’t go to a better program. If a coach leaves on bad terms and bolts for a better school, it’s usually a smart play to fade that team, but that’s not the case with Wisconsin. Also, Barry Alvarez is a great coach and they’ve had plenty of time to prepare. I think Wisconsin can match the physicality in the trenches, and I think this one comes down to the wire. I just can’t lay that many points with Auburn due to the way they ended the season, which was a total collapse. I think Wisconsin is presenting some value here and we’ll roll with them.
2015 Outback Bowl Pick: Wisconsin +7, Over 63.5
2015 Outback Bowl Score Prediction: Wisconsin 35 – Auburn 30