The Auburn Tigers (7-5) meet the Purdue Boilermakers (6-6) in Nashville on Dec. 28 in the 2018 Music City Bowl for the first SEC-Big Ten matchup of the bowl season and a battle between a team on the rise and another trying to salvage a season that fell short of championship aspirations.
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Auburn-Purdue: Music City Bowl time, TV channel
Auburn plays Purdue on Dec. 28 at 1:30 p.m. ET in Nissan Stadium in Nashville on ESPN.
Auburn-Purdue: Music City Bowl prediction, preview
The Music City Bowl marks the first-ever meeting between Auburn and Purdue and it serves as an important moment for both programs.
Starting with Auburn, the Tigers have been thought of for some time now as a contender in the competitive SEC West. A loss to Purdue would only make this season more of a disappointment for an Auburn team that was ranked as high as No. 7 this season.
For Purdue, another win against a well-known program would make this season even more of a success for the Boilermakers. They already have a 29-point win against then-No. 2 Ohio State this season. If Purdue got a win against an SEC opponent for a second straight 7-6 season, Jeff Brohm’s time in West Lafayette would be off to even more of a roaring start.
But for the Boilermakers to come away with bowl victory, they're going to have to find a way to replace defensive lineman Lorenzo Neal. He’s not one of the statistical leaders on that defensive front, but he takes up a lot of space and can put pressure on opposing quarterbacks, which is going to be priority No. 1 for the Purdue defense against Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham.
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Stidham hasn’t had the season most expected, but he can still move the ball down the field and make high-difficulty throws. He has already announced his decision to forgo his final season of eligibility for the NFL draft, so Stidham is going to want to put up big numbers against a team that nationally ranks near the bottom of passing yards allowed per game.
Auburn’s defense ranks eighth in the SEC in total yards allowed, but it still has a top 50 defense. With that said, the argument can be made that the Tigers have yet to face a player as dynamic as Purdue freshman Rondale Moore.
Moore, an Associated Press first-team All-American, is the lone freshman offensive player on any of the three AP All-America teams. He really came onto the national scene with his 12 receptions for 170 yards and two touchdowns against Ohio State, then continued to put up great numbers the rest of the season. He enters the Music City Bowl against Auburn off of two games with more than 110 receiving yards and two touchdowns in each game.
If Auburn is going to stop Moore, its best bets are All-SEC defenders Deshaun Davis at linebacker and defensive lineman Derrick Brown. The two of them lead the Tigers with 14.0 and 9.5 tackles for loss, respectively. Cornerback Jamel Dean will be vital for Auburn as well. He has proven the ability to limit the best outside receivers of top opponents. It’s unlikely he’ll be matched up against Moore in the slot position.
The one defensive player to watch for Purdue is senior linebacker Markus Bailey. He is the heart and soul of the Purdue defense. Auburn has had a running-back-by-committee approach this season, so Bailey could have a larger role in the pass defense rather than the rush defense in this year’s Music City Bowl.
|7-5 (3-5 SEC West)||Record (Conference)||6-6 (5-4 Big Ten West)|
|28.3||Points per game||31.9|
|373.6||Yards per game||459.0|
|363.1||Yards allowed per game||441.5|
|222.4||Passing yards allowed||276.9|
|140.7||Rushing yards allowed||164.6|
2,421 yards (13 TDs, 5 INTs)
|Passing leader||David Blough
3,521 yards (25 TDs, 8 INTs)
777 yards, 4 TDs
|Rushing leader||D.J. Knox
868 yards, 8 TDs
523 yards, 0 TDs
|Receiving leader||Rondale Moore
1,164 yards, 12 TDs
103 total tackles, 14.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks
|Defensive leader||Markus Bailey
104 total tackles, 8.0 TFL, 6.5 sacks
Auburn-Purdue: Score prediction
These two teams are hard to read. Auburn has a really good early-season win against Washington and obviously Purdue has the win against the Buckeyes. But each team has been inconsistent at times.
As good as Moore is for Purdue, he has been limited in some games this season. Stidham has been inconsistent, but the Purdue defense has allowed less than 400 yards of total offense only once since mid-October.
Auburn 37, Purdue 24