The Auburn Tigers and Virginia Cavaliers square off in the 2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia. The Chick-fil-A bowl is the second bowl game to feature a team from the ACC against a team from the SEC. Mississippi State and Wake Forest square off in the Music City Bowl on December 30th (Music City Bowl Preview).
Auburn went 4-4 in SEC play and finished the season with an overall record of 7-5. All of the teams that Auburn lost against, won at least 10 games this season. The Tigers head into the bowl game ranked #25 in the nation. Virginia was 5-3 in the ACC and finished 8-4 overall. Virginia beat two teams that were ranked at the time of their game in Georgia Tech and Florida State. Can Virginia beat a third ranked team in the Chick-fil-A Bowl?
When Virginia is on Offense
The Virginia Cavaliers offense ranked 88th in the nation in scoring at 23.2 points per game. Sophomore quarterback Michael Rocco completed 60% of his passes for 2359 yards this season. Rocco had 11 touchdown passes but also threw 11 interceptions. Perry Jones and freshman Kevin Parks will both see time at running back in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Jones averaged 5.0 yards per carry on his way to 883 yards, while Parks put up 661 yards on 4.7 yards per carry.
Auburn’s defense gave up 29.3 points per game this season. With Nick Fairley on the d-line last season Auburn had 34 sacks as a team. This season, the Tigers only had 21 sacks in 12 games. Fortunately for Auburn’s defense they get to play a below average offense in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
When Auburn is on Offense
The Tigers scored an average of 24.3 points per game this season. Auburn struggled to throw the ball this season and are ranked 106th with only 153.4 passing yards per game. Sophomore Michael Dyer went over 1000 yards rushing for the second straight season, but he is suspended for violating team rules and will not be available to play for the Tigers. Running back Onterio McCalebb is dangerous as a runner and receiver. McCalebb had 532 yards rushing and 291 yards receiving this year.
Virginia’s defense did a good job of keeping them in games only allowing 22.3 points per game this season. The Cavaliers were not successful in rushing the passer with only 19 sacks in this season. Virginia will need to contain McCalebb to keep their team in the game against Auburn.
2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl Pick Against the Spread
Oddsmakers currently have Auburn as a three-point favorite over Virginia. The Cavaliers have a solid defense and they are facing an Auburn team without its best offensive player in Michael Dyer. Onterio McCalebb is a good running back and may have a nice game for Auburn, but he lacks the ability to run between the tackles like Dyer. I like Virginia to win this game, so I will take the Cavaliers with the three-points.
2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl Prediction
Virginia – 20
Auburn – 17