Music City Bowl Pick: Purdue vs. Auburn
Music City Bowl Betting Pick
Purdue Boilermakers (6-6 SU, 7-5 ATS) vs. Auburn Tigers (7-5 SU, 5-7 ATS)
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl Preview
Date/Time: Friday December 28th, 2018. 1:30PM (EST)
Where: Nissan Stadium Nashville, T.N.
Point Spread:PUR +3.5/AUB -3.5
Over/Under Total: 54.5
Before the year started, I thought the Auburn Tigers may push for a seat at the table in the College Football Playoffs. Instead, the Tigers breakout campaign was derailed mid-season with back to back losses to Mississippi State and Tennessee. Thanks to a brutal schedule, the Tigers limped home to a 7-5 SU record and increased the ever-growing pressure around the tenure of Head Coach Gus Malzahn. As a result, Auburn will get the opportunity to try to end the season on a positive note when they meet the Purdue Boilermakers in Nashville for the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl.
Purdue seeking 2nd consecutive bowl win for 1st time since 1998
Former Western Kentucky Head Coach Jeff Brohm did a masterful job turning the Boilermakers program around last season in his debut in West Lafayette that was highlighted by a victory in the Foster Farms Bowl. Previously Purdue won just 8 games from 2014-2016 but will have the opportunity to score their 2nd straight bowl victory for the first time since the 1997-1998 seasons. From a win/loss perspective, some may argue that Purdue did not improve in Brohm’s 2nd season as they need a victory to reach last year’s 7-5 mark.
However if you consider the amount of talent that was lost after the 2017 season, then it is hard to ignore Purdue’s progress. The problem this season was simply consistency. The Boilermakers proved to be a formidable opponent with quality wins over the likes of no. 23 Boston College, no. 2 Ohio State, and no. 16 Iowa. Yet the Boilermakers offered had some ugly losses peppered on the calendar against the likes of Northwestern and Eastern Michigan to name a few. For the Boilermakers, another quality win over a prestigious school like Auburn would be great for this rather young team and prove that Brohm definitely has this program moving in the right direction.
Auburn’s offense under the microscope
The Auburn offense has been plagued with inconsistency this season, and that is largely why Gus Malzahn has received so much criticism. Malzahn is known as an offensive mastermind, yet the Tigers averaged just 373 total yards on the offensive side of the football this season ranking 94th in the FBS. The running game dwindled into an afterthought and veteran transfer quarterback Jarrett Stidham became an unlikely focal point. Stidham was decent completing 60% of his passes for 2,421 yards with 13 touchdowns and 5 picks. However, I think most everyone would agree that Auburn’s offense is not designed to rely on the pass. Malzahn’s offense relies on heavy running attacks, run-pass-options, and misdirection plays with speedy talents. That talent simply has not been there in 2018, and that is why I am wary of this match-up against Purdue in Nashville.
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Quarterback David Blough targets weak Auburn pass defense
The strength of Auburn’s defense lies within the defensive front where they are strong and fast. The Purdue offensive line will face a huge challenge in trying to protect Boilermakers quarterback David Blough. However, the match-up is a positive one for the Boilermakers if they can find the protection against a rather soft Auburn pass defense. Blough (66%, 3, 521yds, 25 TDs, 8 INTs) and this Purdue passing attack is averaging over 300 yards per game. We have seen this passing attack give several quality defenses a headache this season and I expect that will be the case again against Auburn. Freshman WR Rondale Moore is a match-up nightmare for this Auburn secondary who was ravished by Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa for 324 yards with 5 touchdowns in the Iron Bowl. If you throw in Auburn’s offensive woes despite a subpar Purdue defense, I think there is legitimate concern that Auburn loses this football game. The Boilermakers will keep the pressure on this secondary if they get the protection.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I like the team with the match-up upside and more to play for in this situation. Take Purdue +3.5