The final bowl game of the 2011 calendar season will see two good squads take center stage in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Virginia and No. 25 Auburn will square off in this contest, which is scheduled for a start time of 7:30 pm that will be televised nationally on ESPN. Currently the odds have Auburn favored by 3 points while the total is sitting at 49 points. Auburn, the defending national champions, are playing in a much lesser bowl game this season, but can still cap off a pretty good campaign and finish with eight wins.
Free Analysis: Virginia was one of the best kept secrets this season in college football, winning eight games. It's the fourth time the Cavaliers will be playing in this contest, formerly the Peach Bowl, and the first time since 1998. Virginia returned 17 starters from an under .500 team last year, so not much was expected of the group. Hard to believe, by the Cavs this year had road wins over Florida State and Miami. QB Michael Rocco has just 11 TDs and 11 picks this season, but is completing 60% of his passes. The Hoovs have several close wins this season so that helps them in a position like this. One aspect of the game Virginia will have to capitalize on is the turnovers. The Cavs finished the season with a -5 turnover margin this season while Auburn was EVEN in turnovers with their opponents. This will be Auburn's first appearance in this bowl game since beating Clemson in 2007. However, the Tigers will be without the services of running back Michael Dyer, who was suspended for the game for violating team rules. Auburn is not a good passing team, ranking 106th in the country through the air. Don't underestimate the fact that offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn (Arkansas State) and defensive coordinator Ted Roof (Central Florida) took other jobs. It will affect this team. I was a bit confused by Auburn this season because I didn't see enough progression from the beginning of the season to this point in the year. It's kind of the opposite for Virginia, omitting the huge beatdown they took in the final game of the season by Virginia Tech. Mike London's team has made a major move forward in this season and I think they'll be OK in this game tonight. I've been impressed with the team as a whole this season. If they can run the ball behind that big and beefy offensive line, they'll win. Virginia quarterbacks have only been sacked 15 times this season and the Cavs average 165 yards on the ground per game. They'll now face an Auburn defense that surrenders 29.3 points and 405.8 total yards per game, second-most in the SEC in both categories.
Free Pick: I can't back Auburn in this game after losing both coordinators to head coaching jobs. I haven't been able to back Auburn all season because of inconsistent play at the quarterback position all year. Add to that Dyer's inability to follow the rules and you have sort of a mess for the Tigers tonight. Virginia doesn't play in a lot of bowl games, while Auburn is a yearly participant in the post season of college football. If we're looking at this from a motivational standpoint, I don't think Auburn is in the right spot. Virginia is getting points in this contest and I think they're going to win the game outright.
Texas A&M vs Northwestern BettingPoor favorite in Texas A&M and Northwestern motivated to win first bowl game under Coach Fitzgerald plus other factors college football bettors need to know about Texas A&M vs Northwestern (Saturday, December 31, 2011) from Pregame.com - Including predictions from Bryan Leonard and analysis from host Marco D'Angelo.