Match-up: Auburn (SEC) Vs. Memphis (9-3)
Spread: Auburn (-2.5)
Location: Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama
When: Wednesday, December 30th, 12:00 PM Eastern
Where to Watch: ESPN
There wasn’t a more disappointing team this season than the Auburn Tigers, who began the season as the 6th ranked team in the nation. Few expected them to perform so poorly (cough cough, cough cough, we did…). The tone was set in Week 2, when Auburn nearly lost to Jacksonville State at home… Jacksonville State… Auburn’s only real quality win was against Texas A&M, who was struggling at the time anyway. Quarterback problems and defensive issues where the main reason for Auburn’s struggles this year. They’ll look to make the SEC look better in this game.
Players to Watch
Peyton Barber (RB) – Don’t let the numbers fool you, Barber is an absolute stud. He rushed for 976 yards and 13 TDs, which isn’t bad, but again, he’s better than that. Running against SEC defenses with NO QUARTERBACK to keep those defenses honest? And he still managed 4.3 YPC. Memphis has an average defense at best, look for the Sophomore to feast.
Jonathan Ford (S) – There are actually a lot of playmakers on this Auburn defense, but the Junior safety stood above the rest. His 113 total tackles lead the team. He also managed 3 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 sack. Against a Memphis defense that likes to air it out, expect Ford to make some plays.
How Auburn Can Win
Find a way to throw the ball… Auburn ranks 108th in passing offense, but Memphis is abysmal at stopping the pass; they rank 115th in the nation. If Auburn wants to stand a chance, they’ll have to beat Memphis at their own game.
Essentially the opposite of Auburn, Memphis was one of the most pleasant surprises of this entire season. They didn’t receive a single vote to be ranked in the preseason, yet spent most of the season in the Top 25. Quarterback Paxton Lynch established himself as a the possible 1st overall pick this season in the upcoming NFL draft. There were some shaky moments (tough losses to Temple and Navy), but overall, it was another successful year for a team that went 10-3 last season. They already handled Ole Miss, now they’ll look to defeat another SEC opponent.
Players to Watch
Paxton Lynch (QB) – Would you expect anybody else? The Junior quarterback threw for 28 touchdowns to only 3 interceptions this season, while racking up 3670 yards to lead the Tigers to being the 13th best passing attack in the nation. Lynch is coming off of a performance against SMU in which he threw 7 touchdowns… IN THE FIRST HALF… ON 9 COMPLETIONS… That’s unheard of.
Genard Avery (LB) – Memphis didn’t exactly win with their defense this year, but the Sophomore linebacker built a name for himself this season. Avery put up 53 tackles, 6.5 of them for losses, as well as 3 sacks and 2 QB hits. He’ll look to end his season on a high note, as he heads into next season.
How Memphis Can Win
Paxton Lynch, you know the drill. Memphis is built to beat Auburn. They throw the ball well, and they can stop the run (Memphis is ranked 31st against the run). Just do your thing Memphis.
Final Score Prediction: Memphis Wins 42-20
Photo Credit: http://www.foxsports.com/college-football/story/florida-gators-football-former-staff-took-other-quarterback-over-memphis-star-102215