Purdue Boilermakers vs. Auburn Tigers (-3.5)
Fri., December 28, 1:30 p.m. ET
Three things to know before betting on Purdue-Auburn:
1. This bowl game features two teams with completely different things going on off the field. For Auburn, the uncertainty of Gus Malzahn’s situation has put a cloud over the program. Malzahn is set to return as coach of the Tigers next year, but won't be around much longer if the Tigers continue to struggle. And Malzahn has already had to make staff changes, which is never a good thing. Meanwhile, Purdue is headed in the right direction after becoming bowl eligible and finding a way to keep Jeff Brohm from leaving for the opening at Louisville. Brohm is a Louisville guy, so it was huge that he stayed with the Boilermakers. His players are going to be amped up to get out there and play for him again, and they know they can help this program’s recruiting a great deal by knocking off an SEC opponent here. Purdue also happens to be 9-1 against the spread when facing teams that complete at least 58% of their passes over the last two seasons.
2. There aren’t many QB-WR combos as good as David Blough and Rondale Moore right now. Since the third week of the season, Blough has had seven 300-yard passing games and seven games in which he threw for at least three touchdowns. Meanwhile, Moore has had seven 100-yard receiving games this season. The freshman has also caught 12 touchdown passes, and he has even added 203 yards and a touchdown as a runner. Luckily for Purdue, the Tigers don’t have the stout defense that they usually do either. While Auburn isn’t exactly bad on that side of the ball, the team isn't fielding a top-10 defense like it does in some year. This won’t be a walk in the park for Blough and the Boilermakers, but Purdue will be able to move the ball and put up some points.
3. Jarrett Stidham didn’t end up being the can’t-miss prospect that people said he would be, but that actually helps Auburn in this game. Had Stidham already solidified himself as a first-round pick, then he might have chosen not to play for Auburn here. His presence will give the Tigers a chance to score some points, but the problem is that the Boilermakers will be able to go toe to toe with them on offense. And while Purdue gave up a ton of yardage in the passing game this year, the Boilermakers only gave up 17 touchdowns through the air, tied for the 42nd-best mark in the nation. That’s not exactly something to write home about, but it does mean that the Boilermakers tend to have a bend-don’t-break approach. Plus, the team’s defense will be fired up for this opportunity to play against a program as big as Auburn.
Pick: Purdue +3.5
Confidence Level: Moderate (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)