College Football around Alabama: Auburn Rings in 2018 in Atlanta
Although the Auburn Tigers missed out on a potential SEC title and College Football Playoff berth, Gus Malzahn’s squad has one more opportunity to finish the season with a bang against UCF.
Auburn’s 11:30 AM kickoff against UCF marks the fourth meeting of the series. The Tigers have won all three of the prior meetings in 1997, 1998 and 1999.
The Tigers will also make their sixth appearances in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl as they have won four of their five previous appearances in the bowl game.
Auburn’s Balanced Offense
The hallmark of Gus Malzahn’s coaching career has been his ability to mastermind explosive offenses.
Over the course of the 2017 season, Auburn has displayed the ability to move the ball on the ground and through the air.
Coming into the bowl season, Auburn is one of just four teams nationally to average 225 rushing and 225 yards passing per game.
Through 13 games, the Tigers have averaged 228.2 rushing yards per game will passing for 225.8 yard per game.
UCF’s Explosive Offense
On the opposite sideline, Auburn’s defense will face the best offense that they have seen all season long in the UCF Knights.
UCF’s ability to light up the scoreboard has been a primary reason why they are still undefeated at 12-0. The American Athletic Conference champions lead all FBS teams with an average of 49.4 points per game.
Individually, the Knights have one of college football’s top quarterback-wide receiver combinations in quarterback McKenzie Milton and receiver Tre’Quan Smith.
Milton has thrown for 3,795 yards including 35 touchdown tosses and has thrown for over 300 yards in seven of 12 games this season.
Smith has made his presence known on the edge with 13 touchdown receptions along with 1,082 receiving yards. The junior wide receiver has four games with more than 100 yards receiving including a two-touchdown, 161 yard game against Memphis in the AAC Championship Game.
Auburn’s 2nd Half Performance
One of the keys for Monday’s Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl may be how Auburn’s performs in the second half.
In their losses to Clemson, LSU and Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, the Tigers failed to score in the second half while surrendering 38 points on defense. In their 10 wins, they have outscored opponents 212-86.
Also look for Auburn’s ability to keep the chains moving on third down. In their three losses, the Tigers have converted only 13 of their 45 conversion attempts on third down. In their 10 wins, they have converted on 73 of their 146 third down tries.
Kickoff from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta is at 11:30 AM on ESPN.
New Year’s Day Bowl Schedule
Auburn vs. UCF 11:30 AM (ESPN) (Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: Atlanta, GA)
South Carolina vs. Michigan 11 AM (ESPN2) (Outback Bowl: Tampa, FL)
LSU vs. Notre Dame Noon (ABC) (Citrus Bowl: Orlando, FL)
Georgia vs. Oklahoma 4 PM (ESPN) (Rose Bowl/CFB Playoff Semifinal: Pasadena, CA)
Alabama vs. Clemson 7:45 PM (ESPN) (Sugar Bowl/CFB Playoff Semifinal: New Orleans, LA)