3* Chick-fil-A Bowl Bailout
Virginia vs. Auburn,
12/31/2011 19:30 EDT,
Score: 24 - 43
Point Spread: +3/-105 Virginia
3* Chick-fil-A Bowl Bailout (ESPN, 7:30) on Virginia +3
This is not the same Auburn team that ran the table last season, not even close. And, in addition to the large amount of talent lost from last season's national title squad, the Tigers have been dealing with an unfavorable coaching situation leading up to their bowl game.
Gene Chizik has had to assume defensive coordinator duties after Ted Roof left to take the same position at Central Florida. Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn will be on the sidelines, but he has been preoccupied with his new assignment - Arkansas State head coach. These kinds of changes makes it tough on the players.
Auburn has been dealt another blow with the suspension of stud running back Michael Dyer, who violated team rules.
The Auburn defense, which surrenders 29.3 points and 405.8 total yards per game, will have a difficult time penetrating Virginia's offensive line, which is led by senior All-American guard Austin Pasztor. The defensive line play was a big part of Auburn's success last season, but the unit hasn't been as strong without Nick Fairley. The boys up front don't figure to cause many problems for a Virginia O-line that has given up just 15 total sacks.
Auburn can't be happy to be here after all it accomplished last year. Virginia, meanwhile, is thrilled to be playing in its first bowl since a 31-28 loss to Texas Tech in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1, 2008. Virginia will be the more motivated and polished team. Take the points.