It may be great to be an Auburn Tiger at 4 PM in the Music City. It depends on the play of Jarrett Stidham, the play of the o line and the running backs and a defense that can be good at times, but got bashed by Tua Tagovailoa and the Crimson Tide in the Iron Bowl, 52-21. Purdue is playing with a lot of passion as result of their team inspiration. Tyler Trent, a young guy battling a rare form of bone cancer, and is a passionate Boilermakers fan. Trent is in hospice but will be at the game supporting his team. Against Ohio State, Trent was there and the Boilers put on a clinic blasting the Buckeyes, 49-20. So Purdue will be charged up. The question is, will Auburn be.
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Auburn (7-5) vs. Purdue (6-6)
Nissan Stadium, Nashville, 69,143
12:30 PM CT
Anish Shroff, Ahmad Brooks, Roddy Jones
Whistles, Big 12, Brad Van Vark
Auburn by 3 1/2
Jarrett Stidham has declared for the NFL draft, but I’m not so sure he can be a good Sunday player. He’s got a lot to prove today. Stidham completed 209 of 346 passes, 60%, for 2,421 yards, 13 TDs and 5 ints. His offensive line had trouble protecting him quite a bit, but he was inaccurate at times also. But he’s got some pretty good weapons on the perimeter in Ryan Davis, who pulled in 64 passes for 523 yards but no touchdowns. They need to get Davis the ball and let him move the sticks and get in the end zone. Darius Slayton has 32 receptions for 510 yards and 2 TDs. But maybe the most impressive is freshman Seth Williams, who pulled in 24 passes for 479 yards and 5 TDs. Williams can be a super player with good quarterback play, which may be a little questionable at Auburn next year though freshman Joey Gatewood and incoming 5 star Bo Nix have great talent. Anthony Schwartz is a world class sprinter who rushed 23 times for 199 yards and 4 TDs. If Schwartz gets into space, he can certainly make a house call. He’s a pretty good receiver, too, with 19 receptions for 307 yards and 2 TDs. Running back Ja’Tarvious Whitlow, known as “Boobie” by his teammates, is a good when he’s healthy. Whitlow rushed for 777 yards and 4 TDs this season, but struggled with injuries and sometimes ball security. Shaun Shivers is a promising speedster who rushed for 338 yards, on 5.7 yards per carry and 3 TDs.
On defense, the Tigers are led in tackles by superb inside linebacker Deshaun Davis, who posted 103 tackles and a team leading 14 tackles for loss. Defensive end Nick Coe, who posted 13 1/2 TFLs and 7 sacks is out today with an injury. The Auburn front, led by Derrick Brown (9 1/2 TFLs, 3 1/2 sacks) and Marlon Davidson ( 4 1/2 TFLs and 2 1/2 sacks) will need to be big factors to stop what can be a pretty prolific Purdue offense. The Tigers have 12 interceptions on the season, Strong safety Daniel Thomas and linebacker Darrell Williams have both taken 1 back to the house.
Purdue is led by quarterback David Blough, who has completed 283 of 425 passes, 67%, for 3,521 yards, 25 TDs against 8 ints. Slot back Rondale Moore is explosive rushing for 203 yards and 1 TD, and catching 103 passes for 1,164 yards and 12 TDs. On defense, linebacker Markus Bailey leads them in tackles with 104. He also has 8 tackles for loss and 6 1/2 sacks, and a 41 yard interception return for a house call. Inside linebacker Cornel Jones leads the defense in TFLs with 12 1/2. The Boilermakers have posted 11 interceptions on the season.
Auburn really doesn’t have momentum heading into this game and Purdue will be playing with a lot of passion. Auburn’s talent is better, but can Gus Malzahn get them motivated for this game. It’s a big question mark. But I’ll take the Tigers in a close game. They’ll do enough.
Auburn 35, Purdue 31
Camping World Bowl
Syracuse (9-3) vs. West Virginia (8-3)
Camping World Stadium, Orlando, 65,000
4:15 PM CT
Dave Flemming, Rod Gilmore, Quint Kessenich
Stripes, Pac-12, Steve Strimling
Syracuse by 2
The Mountaineers started out as a 9 point favorite, but when star quarterback Will Grier decided to sit this one out for the draft, the line moved drastically. I agree with the gamblers. Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey, who completed 205 of 343 passes, 60%, for 2,565 yards, 17 TDs and 7 ints along with running for 732 yards and 15 more TDs, and the Orange earn the victory in Orlando.
Syracuse 42, West Virginia 34
Valero Alamo Bowl
Iowa State Cyclones (8-4) vs Washington State Cougars (10-2)
Alamodome, San Antonio, 72,000
8 PM CT
Dave Pasch, Gregory McElroy, Lugues
Laundry, BIG 10, John O’Neill
Wash State by 3
I like running back David Montgomery (1092 yards, 12 TDs), quarterback Brock Purdy (128 of193, 66%, 16 TDs, 5 ints) and a pretty solid Cyclones defense to get over the top against quarterback Gardiner Minshew (433 of 613, 71%, 36 TDs, 9 ints) and the Cougars in a slight upset.