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Music City Bowl Preview: Purdue heads to Nashville to take on Auburn

Can the Boilers’ offense get them through one more game this year, or will Jarrett Stidham and the Tigers’ speed shut down Purdue?

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Purdue Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

What: Franklin Mortgage Music City Bowl
Where: Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN
When: Friday, December 28, 12:30pm CT
Who: Purdue Boilermakers (6-6) vs. Auburn Tigers (7-5)
Watch: ESPN
Line: Auburn -3.5 (O/U 55.5)

[to be sung in the voice of Brad Paisley]

Well, Jeff Brohm stuck around,
The Boilers hopes are sound,
A bowl game in Nashville,
Sounds good, far as I can tell.

It was quite a journey to this point. Purdue rolls into Nashville after a roller coaster of a 6-6 season. Their opponent? The Auburn Tigers of the much hated SEC.

At first look, the 7-5 record doesn’t move the needle, especially when you consider a bad midseason loss to Tennessee. But another glance at the schedule shows they’re capable of pulling upsets with a season-opening win over Washington and another good win against Texas A&M. By and large though, the season has been a bit of a disappointment after starting the season with a Top 10 ranking. After that loss to the Vols, there were rumblings that Malzahn was on the hot seat. Of course, things could get interesting now that Malzahn has hired Memphis’ OC Kenny Dillingham to call plays.

Fortunately for the Ever Grateful,
That 0 and 3 start came and went,
They beat the Buckeyes 49-20,
Thanks to an assist from Tyler Trent.

When you start to break down the Tigers on offense, their passing attack is led by starting QB Jarrett Stidham. Stidham has declared for the NFL draft but is sticking around for the bowl game. He’s had a decent season, throwing for over 2400 yards with a 13:5 TD-to-INT ratio. There are some concerns about his pocket presence and his accuracy but he’s good enough to present Purdue’s secondary some challenges. Fortunately for the Boilers, news has emerged that senior safety Jacob Thieneman could return from injury. That would be a huge boost to a secondary that’s struggled at times.

Auburn’s primary rushing attack is JaTarvious Whitlow. The freshman has been decent enough, rushing for 777 yards and 4 TDs. With the Boilers losing Lorenzo Neal during the Bucket Game, this could open up some opportunities for the Tigers rushing attack.

The offense still looks hungry,
Always trying to score,
Defenses really hate it,
Every time Blough throws to Moore.

On the defensive side, Auburn, statistically speaking, has a decent defense. They rate 44th overall, giving up just 19.6 PPG. They also rate decently against the pass, only allowing 222 YPG. This should be a good challenge to see if Purdue’s receivers can get into space and create while also challenging Blough’s accuracy. Of course, the wild card is Rondale Moore, who will try and use his speed and shiftiness to break open the big play. It should be interesting to see how the Tigers plan to attack Jeff Brohm’s offense. Teams that try to scheme against the pass have been burned for big runs by DJ Knox.

Oh, the Boilers, they’re a-rollin’,
Back in a bowl again,
So pass me a cold one,
And I’ll sing for a Purdue win.

Oh, and thanks to the Indianapolis Colts, Honorary Captain Tyler Trent will be in attendance. That can’t hurt as Purdue is 2-0 in games this season when he’s been at the coin flip.

My prediction: Boilers 31, Auburn 27


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