Auburn vs. Northwestern Citrus Bowl Odds | 2020 NCAAF Expert Betting Analysis

Auburn vs. Northwestern Citrus Bowl Odds | 2020 NCAAF Expert Betting Analysis

Written by on December 31, 2020

Auburn has hired Boise State’s Bryan Harsin as its new head coach to replace the fired Gus Malzahn, but defensive coordinator Kevin Steele will serve as the Tigers’ interim head coach for Friday’s Citrus Bowl against No. 14 Northwestern. The Wildcats are favored on the College Football odds.

How to Bet Auburn vs. Northwestern NCAA Football Odds & TV Info

When: Friday, 1 PM ET
Where: Camping World Stadium, Orlando
TV: ABC
Stream: ESPN app
Radio: Tunein.com
Opening NCAAF Lines: Northwestern -3.5 (total 43.5)

Series History

It’s the second-ever meeting between the Wildcats and Tigers and the first since Auburn’s overtime victory over Northwestern at the 2010 Outback Bowl in nearby Tampa.

It’s Auburn’s sixth appearance in the game, tied with Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Penn State for the most all-time. Auburn is 3-2 in its five previous trips. Northwestern has played in the Citrus Bowl once, coming in 1997 and losing to a Peyton Manning-led Tennessee squad.

Why Bet on Auburn?

As noted above, Boise State’s Bryan Harsin is the new Auburn coach but he’ll be simply watching this game from somewhere. He replaces Gus Malzahn, who was fired earlier this month after eight seasons with the Tigers. The 44-year-old Harsin was 69-19 with three Mountain West titles in seven seasons at Boise State, his alma mater. Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele was considered for the full-time job but will likely not be retained by Harsin after Steele serves as interim coach for this one.

Auburn fired Malzahn after a 24-10 win over Mississippi State on Dec. 12 gave the Tigers a 6-4 record. – Tank Bigsby rushed for a career-high 192 yards, Bo Nix threw and ran for fourth-quarter touchdowns and Anders Carlson kicked three field goals. Bigsby’s 192-yard performance on 26 carries was the third best by an Auburn freshman behind only Travis Tidwell’s 222-yard game vs. Furman in 1946 and Tommie Agee’s 219 yards vs. Maryland in 1983.

Auburn’s defense intercepted two passes and made six sacks while allowing only one touchdown. The Tigers’ defense sealed the victory by sacking Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers three times on the Bulldogs’ final two possessions.

Bigsby (undisclosed) hopes to play in the Citrus Bowl. When asked about the freshman phenom’s playing status, OC Chad Morris said "We’re hoping. We’ll see about that on Friday." It seems like this could be a COVID or contact tracing situation as Bigsby was healthy enough to play in the regular-season finale.

Arguably the best freshman running back in the nation, there has been some speculation that Bigsby is considering leaving Auburn following Malzahn’s firing. Bigsby, who ranks second among FBS freshman with 834 rushing yards, shared SEC Freshman of the Year honors with Missouri quarterback Connor Bazelak.

Auburn wideout Anthony Schwartz is expected to sit out the game. The junior wide receiver, who may be the fastest player in college football, leads the Tigers in reception (54) while ranking second in receiving yards (636) and touchdowns (three).

Defensive backs Christian Tutt and Jamien Sherwood are also expected to sit. Sherwood ranks third on the team in total tackles (65), while also tallying 3.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sacks, three pass breakups, one quarterback hurry and two fumble recoveries. Tutt, who has also returned three punts for 30 yards, has 31 total tackles, one pass breakup, one quarterback hurry and one fumble recovery.

The Tigers enter this matchup allowing an average of 23.7 points and 400.9 total yards per game on the season and have held opposing offenses to just 163.1 rushing yards per game.

Why Bet on Northwestern?

The Wildcats (6-2) gave Ohio State trouble in the Big Ten title game but lost 22-10 on Dec. 19. The Wildcats’ defense limited Heisman Trophy candidate and quarterback Justin Fields to a career-low 114 passing yards as a Buckeye.

Northwestern held Ohio State to a field goal on the game’s opening drive, the first time an Ohio State opponent has prevented an opening-drive touchdown this season. The Wildcats have yet to allow an opening-drive touchdown this season.

Ohio State’s six points in the first half was its lowest this season and the first time the Buckeyes failed to score a touchdown during the initial two frames of a game in over two years. During OSU’s final drive of the first half, defensive back Brandon Joseph snatched his nation-leading sixth interception of the season in the end zone. Joseph earned Associated Press All-America first team honors.

Northwestern converted on a fourth down in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats have at least one fourth down conversion in every game this season and converted 15 times in total, tied for eighth most in the nation and the most in the Big Ten. The 71.4% conversion rate is the highest for any Big Ten team and tied for the second most in the nation for all teams with at least 21 attempts.
Northwestern tied a season high with 3.0 sacks, combining for a loss of 29 yards. The ‘Cats also had 7.0 tackles for loss, bringing their season total to 50.0, tied for their most through eight games since 2017.

Cornerback Greg Newsome decided to turn pro and will forego the Wildcats’ bowl game. The junior cornerback was one of the Big Ten’s best this season, finishing the year with one interception and ten pass breakups. Newsome was hurt vs. Ohio State and may not have been able to play in the bowl regardless.

Northwestern ranks fifth nationally in scoring defense, allowing 15.5 points per game. The Wildcats’ pass defense is also among the strongest in the country and has held opponents to 182.2 passing yards per game. Northwestern is the only school among Power Five programs to have three active players with at least 200 career total tackles. Seniors Paddy Fisher, Blake Gallagher and Chris Bergin have a combined 932 total tackles.

Game Trends

Tigers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games as an underdog.
Tigers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 vs. Big Ten.
Tigers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games in January.
Wildcats are 4-0 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
Wildcats are 7-1-1 ATS in their last 9 games overall.
Wildcats are 1-6-1 ATS in their last 8 non-conference games.

Expert Prediction

Northwestern 20, Auburn 17


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