- Northwestern is a 3.5-point favorite over Auburn in the Citrus Bowl on Friday, Jan. 1, at Camping World Stadium in Orlando
- Northwestern is coming off a 22-10 loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game
- Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele will serve as Auburn’s interim head coach after Gus Malzahn was fired
Eleven years later, Auburn and #15 Northwestern will meet again on New Year’s Day when they face each other in the Citrus Bowl at 1 p.m. ET Friday at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.
The only other time the Tigers and Wildcats have played came in the Outback Bowl on the first day of 2010.
Auburn has a 6-4 record both straight up and against the spread. Northwestern, favored in this game, is 6-2 SU and a sparkling 7-1-1 ATS.
Auburn vs Northwestern Citrus Bowl Odds
|Auburn||+146||+3.5 (-120)||Over 43.5 (-110)|
|Northwestern||-180||-3.5 (-102)||Under 43.5 (-110)|
Odds taken Dec. 30 from FanDuel.
Freshmen RBs in Spotlight
The Citrus Bowl will feature two standout freshmen running backs in Auburn’s Tank Bigsby and Northwestern’s Cam Porter.
Bigsby had a big game in the Tigers’ regular-season finale, rushing for 192 yards on 26 carries in a 24-10 road win at Mississippi State. Bigsby helped Auburn cover the 5.5-point spread and should give new coach Bryan Harsin an important building block next season along with sophomore quarterback Bo Nix.
The stiff arm ?
The diving TD ?
TANK. BIGSBY. pic.twitter.com/NDethhkXkI
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) October 24, 2020
It marked the fourth time this season Bigsby hit the century mark. He also went over 100 yards against Arkansas, South Carolina and Mississippi.
Bigsby has 834 yards in 10 games, averaging 6.0 yards on his 138 carries. He has also rushed for five touchdowns.
Porter had a solid performance in Northwestern’s 22-10 loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game as a 16.5-point underdog. He finished with 61 yards on the ground in 16 attempts with one touchdown.
It has only been in the latter stages of the season that Porter has gotten much of an opportunity. He carried 24 times for 142 yards and two touchdowns in the last regular season game, a 28-10 triumph over visiting Illinois as a 13.5-point favorite.
#14 Northwestern moves to 6-1 with a 28-10 win vs Illinois!
Wildcats RBs Evan Hull & Cam Porter both rush for 140+ yards! ?
?under 41#GoCats pic.twitter.com/bDKxs8degh
— SportsBettingDime (@SBD) December 12, 2020
Overall, Porter has 235 yards and four scores in 48 attempts this season.
Auburn fired coach Gus Malzahn following the win over Mississippi State. Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele will serve as interim head coach in the Citrus Bowl while Harsin is expected to watch from the press box.
Harsin come to Alabama after compiling a 69-19 record in seven seasons at Boise State, his alma mater.
Auburn got criticized for “Just Auburn Being Auburn” for the last 10 days due to the Steele mess. It went and hired the most un-Auburn coach possible. AKA: Something different. That’s a good thing. That coach has been a big success his entire career. Bryan Harsin is a great hire.
— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) December 22, 2020
This will be final game for retiring Northwestern defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz, who is wrapping up his 13th season with he Wildcats. He is a finalist for the Frank Broyles Award, which goes to the best assistant coach in the country.
The Wildcats are fifth in the nation in points allowed with an average of 15.5 a game. They also rank 20th in total defense, giving up 338.8 yards a game.
All-Big Ten cornerback Greg Newsome, who was injured in the Big Ten title game, has also declared for the draft. He will be the first Northwestern player to enter the draft after just three years in the program during coach Pat Fitzgerald’s 15-year tenure.
Love this play by #Northwestern CB Greg Newsome II pic.twitter.com/IA6TfMmUvR
— Mike Spencer Hrynyshyn (@MikeH_Draft) December 15, 2020
Three key Auburn players have decided to opt out of the game to begin preparations for the NFL Draft – wide receiver Anthony Schwartz, safety Jamien Sherwood and defensive back Christian Tutt.
The speedy Schwartz leads the Tigers with 54 catches and 636 receiving yards. Sherwood’s 65 tackles are third on the team.
Anthony Schwartz is FAST?
Would you take him in a race against Tyreek Hill?pic.twitter.com/K9zOeWZuKr
— PFF College (@PFF_College) June 25, 2020
More Thrills This Time?
That 2010 Outback Bowl was a thriller as Auburn withstood a late Northwestern rally – the Wildcats scored two touchdowns in the final stages of regulation — to win 38-35 in overtime in Tampa.
It might be hard to match that kind of excitement this time. However, Auburn has a reason to want to play well with its new coach watching and should keep things close against the favored Wildcats.
Pick: Auburn +3.5 (-120)