The No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers (10-3, 5-8 ATS) are set to face off against the No. 19 Auburn Tigers (8-4, 4-8 ATS) in the 2015 Outback Bowl. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:00 EST Thursday, January 1 at Raymond James Stadium and will be televised on ESPN2. Oddsmakers currently have the Tigers listed as a 6.5-point favorite with the total set at 63.5 points.
Wisconsin won the Big Ten West Division with a 7-1 record inside conference play, but would get obliterated by Ohio State 59-0 in the Big Ten Championship Game. The pain from that loss was made even worse when head coach Gary Anderson decided to jump ship and take over at Oregon State. Wisconsin will be looking to snap a 4-game bowl losing streak, which includes last year’s 24-34 loss to South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl.
Auburn came into 2014 with the expectation of defending their SEC West title and getting into the 4-team playoff, but the Tigers luck ran out and they ended up finishing year T-4th in the SEC West at 4-4. Auburn had won 5 consecutive bowl games before losing 31-34 to Florida State in last years BCS Championship Game.
Early Free NCAAF Pick: Auburn -6.5
I think we are getting some great value here with the Tigers laying less than a touchdown. I wasn’t surprised to see Auburn fail to live up to the high expectations they set from last year’s magical run to the BCS Championship Game, but I still think they are one of the best teams in the country and the far superior team in this matchup.
What Ohio State was able to do to do Wisconsin’s defense in the Big Ten Championship Game, leaves little doubt in my mind that the Tigers high-powered offensive attack will have no problem putting up points against the Badgers. Auburn finished 23rd in the country in scoring (35.8 ppg) and were 16th in total offense (489.2 ypg).
One of things that I don’t think people are paying close enough attention to is that Wisconsin had a cupcake schedule outside of their season opener against LSU, which they lost 24-28. The Badgers played in the watered down Big Ten and avoided having to play both Ohio State and Michigan State during the regular season.
On the flip side of this, I look for the Tigers to be able to slow down Melvin Gordon and the Wisconsin high-powered rushing attack. Auburn finished the year a respectable 44th against the run (149.5 ypg) and have faced multiple strong rushing attacks in the SEC. As we saw in the Big Ten Championship Game, without Gordon dominating on the ground, the Badgers offense doesn’t offer a whole lot. Wisconsin has zero threat of a passing game and that’s going to make it very difficult for them to go score for score with the Tigers.
One of things that I don’t think people are paying close enough attention to is that Wisconsin had a cupcake schedule outside of their season opener against LSU, which they lost 24-28. The Badgers played in the watered down Big Ten and avoided having to play both Ohio State and Michigan State during the regular season, who were clearly head and shoulders above the rest of the teams in the conference. I just don’t think the Badgers are as good as what people think and I think the fact that Anderson jumped ship speaks volumes to that.
Auburn is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 bowl games and 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games played on a neutral site. Wisconsin is just 2-5 ATS in their last 7 bowl games, 1-4 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games and 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games played on a neutral site.