2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl Virginia vs Auburn Odds, Free Picks and Predictions on ESPN 12/31/11
Free College Football Bowl Picks and Spreads: Virginia vs Auburn 2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl Vegas Odds, Free Picks, and Expert Predictions on ESPN 12/31/11: What a difference a year makes. Last season, the Auburn was busy winning a national title behind the arm and legs of Heisman-winning quarterback Cam Newton, while Virginia was enduring a forgettable 4-8 campaign. Fortunes have reversed this season, with the Tigers slipping to 7-5 and the Cavaliers improving to 8-4. Now, the two teams will meet in Saturday’s Chick-fil-A Bowl to try to close out the year on a high note. Virginia won more games this season, but the defending national champs are three-point favorites.
College football fans looking for good quarterback play might want to tune into a different game. Virginia’s Michael Rocco threw just 11 touchdown passes and also threw an equal number of interceptions. Meanwhile, Auburn tried Clint Moseley and Barrett Trotter under center, but neither player secured the starting job. True freshman Kiehl Frazier has seen some snaps as well, but he is more of a rusher at this point in his career. All three players could end up seeing time Saturday, and if having two quarterbacks really means having none, having three quarterbacks is a major problem. It is a problem the Tigers will have to deal with against a Virginia defense that gives up just 22.3 points per game.
To make matters worse for the Tigers, they will be without starting running back Michael Dyer. The sophomore led the team with more than 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns, but he is suspended for the bowl game. At times, Dyer was the only reliable offensive weapon for Auburn. Losing him, coupled with the situation at quarterback, could mean a rough offensive showing for the Tigers.
Of course, the Cavaliers aren’t exactly an offensive juggernaut, scoring just 23.2 points per game. However, Virginia does have an experienced offensive line that leads an efficient but not overwhelming running game. Auburn’s defense has struggled this year, allowing nearly 30 points a game. As mediocre as Rocco has been at quarterback, the Cavaliers may not need him to do a lot if the ground game can wear down the Tigers’ defensive front.
The X-factor could be Auburn running back Onterio McCalebb. He has been Dyer’s backup throughout the year, and while he averaged more than five yards per carry, he has never had to carry the load as the feature back. McCalebb has to have a big game in order to take the pressure of the Tigers’ trio of struggling quarterbacks. If he can’t get the ground game going, the already one-dimensional Auburn offense could be borderline stagnant.
At the end of the day, the loss of Dyer will likely have a huge impact on the final outcome. He was the center of the Tigers’ offense, and without him, the team really doesn’t have an identity on that side of the ball. Meanwhile, Virginia’s solid secondary should have plenty of opportunities to make big plays against the Tigers’ signal callers, setting up scoring chances for the Cavaliers’ powering running game. Unless Newton has another game of eligibility, the Tigers are going to be in trouble.
Prediction: Virginia Cavaliers (+3) Cover the Spread
Free College Football Picks and NCAAF Predictions: Virginia +3 to cover the spread
|2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl: Virginia vs Auburn
Time: 7:30 PM EST on ESPN
Vegas Odds – Favorite: Auburn -3 Total: Over/Under 48.5
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