One of two games that kickoff at 1 pm on New Year’s Day brings another B1G vs SEC showdown. The Minnesota Golden Gophers take on the Auburn Tigers. This is the first meeting between the two teams. We’ll preview the game here.
Minnesota Golden Gophers: 10-2 (7-2)
P.J. Fleck is absolutely rolling in Minneapolis. The Gophers are rowing the boat and find themselves amidst their best season since 2003. With a win in the bowl game Fleck would have Minnesota with their highest win total since 1904.
The Gophers ran through the first eight games of their season. A program changing win at home against then No.4 Penn State nearly got them to the B1G title game. Their only two losses this season are on the road to current No.16 Iowa and at home to current No.8 Wisconsin.
The Gophers come in with a fairly balanced offensive attack. They are led by redshirt sophomore Tanner Morgan at quarterback. Morgan finished the season with an impressive 28 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions. He is very careful with the ball and has yet to throw multiple interceptions in a game.
In the backfield the Gophers are led by senior Rodney Smith. Smith has been the go to back for Minnesota since 2015. He has eclipsed the 1,000 yard rushing mark for the second time in his career, just missing it in 2017 with 977 yards.
Auburn Tigers: 9-3 (5-3)
It’s been a tough schedule for the Auburn Tigers this season but it finally paid off in the Iron Bowl at the end of the year. The Tigers knocked off then No.5 Alabama and are hoping to earn 10 wins for just the third time in Gus Malzahn’s Auburn tenure.
Like Minnesota, Auburn’s only losses this season have come to top ten teams. They lost on the road to then No.10 Florida and then No.2 LSU as well as lost at home to then No.4 Georgia. They knocked off Oregon to start the season and then of course beat the Tide in the Iron Bowl.
The first thing that comes to mind for Auburn is defense. They have the 13th ranked scoring defense. The front line puts tons of pressure on opposing quarterbacks and forces hurried errant throws.
Auburn’s offensive is mostly generated by the run game. Jatarvious Whitlow receives the bulk of the carries and leads the team in yards (739) and touchdowns (9). D.J. Williams and Kam Martin receive a fair share as well as his Whitlow’s backups.
Minnesota has a solid defense. Specifically they are very good against the pass which can pose some problems for true freshman quarterback Bo Nix. Auburn will need to utilize a strong run game to penetrate the Gopher defense.
Minnesota comes in with a balanced offense but it ranks outside of the top 45 in both passing and running. If the Auburn offense can avoid turnovers and put up around 20 points they should stand a good chance of victory riding their defense to a win.
Minnesota: 20, Auburn: 26
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