The bowl landscape has been changed by the pandemic. Several teams have opted out of bowl games, while a number of other bowl matchups have been canceled. The bowls have scrambled to try to fill slots. Some teams which expected to have good seasons didn’t reach their goals. Many were thrown out of joint by the pandemic and its effects on team preparation during the offseason. This leaves us with far fewer online betting options to work with, but we still have lots.
One of the bowls which just doesn’t feel like an especially sexy game is the Citrus Bowl (formerly known as the Capital One Bowl) between Auburn and Northwestern. Usually, the Citrus Bowl has teams which won nine or 10 games. This year, neither team will have as many as seven wins. A 6-4 Auburn team playing in this game reduces the stature of the bowl, but the game will still be played… and it might actually be very close and competitive. It just won’t be as big a game as the Citrus Bowl is accustomed to.
The Auburn Tigers went 6-4 this season, and one of their wins was a controversial one over Arkansas in which the Tigers were the beneficiaries of a missed call by officials in the final minutes. Auburn has suffered in three main areas this season: line play, quarterback play, and depth at wide receiver. The Tigers have not received great play from quarterback Bo Nix. Even when he has time to throw, he hasn’t had many players make big plays. Seth Williams has been very good, but no other receivers have emerged as reliable targets, which is why defenses are able to give a lot of attention to Williams and contain him.
Auburn’s offensive line has not been great at run blocking, which has forced Nix into a lot of predictable passing situations. He doesn’t do well in those circumstances. Auburn’s defensive line isn’t terrible, but the best offensive lines in the country are able to mash the Tigers’ front line. Texas A&M’s offensive line, for instance, physically controlled Auburn in the second half of the A&M-Auburn game a few weeks ago.
Northwestern is a case of great defense and little offense. The Northwestern defense played a tremendous Big Ten Championship Game, holding a superpowered Ohio State offense to just 22 points. That’s an amazing effort. Yet, Northwestern’s offense scored only 10 points and committed a turnover in the red zone. Northwestern also missed a field goal. Their offense is slow, doesn’t have a downfield passing threat, and is limited by quarterback Patrick Ramsey, who threw multiple critical interceptions against Ohio State.
One of Northwestern’s best wins of the year was a 17-7 win over Wisconsin in which the Wildcats’ offense didn’t move the ball consistently, but the defense was nearly flawless. That is how Northwestern wins. If NU gives up 20 or more points to an opponent, the offense might not be able to score enough to win.
– Auburn is 7-0 ATS in its last seven games after allowing fewer than 100 rushing yards in its previous game.
– Auburn is 6-1 ATS in its last seven nonconference games.
– Northwestern is 7-1-1 ATS in its last nine games overall.
There had been high hopes for Bo Nix and the Auburn offense going into the year. After all, we had heard that Nix was developing and slowly building, so the mindset was that maybe this year would be the year that he finally blossomed. At the end of the day, it never actually came to fruition. Nix was average – at best – and the Auburn offense stalled many times this season. On the year, Nix finished with just 11 touchdown passes while throwing seven interceptions. He passed for 227 yards or less in each of his final four games, so he’s no prolific passer. He’s a big reason why Auburn eventually fired Gus Malzahn. He was supposed to be an offensive guru but he proved to be far from it.
In this particular spot, Auburn’s offense should be ripe for the plucking by Northwestern’s excellent defense. Auburn doesn’t have the kind of offense which is likely to put pressure on Northwestern to score a large number of points. Look for the Wildcats to earn the win and cover in this bowl game. Take Northwestern and the Under.
Citrus Bowl Prediction: Northwestern 19, Auburn 13
Check out what the people are saying about BetUs in the sportsbook reviews!